The Meatless Monday movement is an easy, weekly reminder to take saturated fat off our plates and replace it with nutrient-rich fruits, vegetables, beans and whole grains.
On average, Americans consume 8 ounces of meat per day — 45% more than the USDA recommends. Founded in 2003, the Meatless Monday Movement has a clear and simple message: One day a week, cut out meat for your well-being and that of our planet.
Going meatless (even for a day) benefits your health, happiness and waistline — here are six reasons to get started, and some tips on how to get your friends and family on board, too.
1. It's easy.
Cutting out meat just one day a week is a way for even the most devout of carnivores to embrace more fruits, veggies and whole grains. And with all the vegetarian and vegan recipes available today, it's easier than ever to get started.
2. It can improve the nutritional quality of your diet.
Going meatless encourages consumption of plant-based sources of protein — like beans and peas. These proteins have higher levels of fiber, folate, zinc, iron, and magnesium and less saturated fat than beef and chicken.
3. It leads to a longer, healthier life.
Evidence suggests that eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables can increase longevity, while red and processed meat consumption has been associated with obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Going meatless once a week could reduce your risk of these preventable chronic conditions.
4. It saves water.
Not only do vegetarian diets reduce the emission of harmful greenhouse gases — they conserve water. Did you know that roughly 1,800 gallons of water are needed to produce a pound of beef? Compare that to the 34 gallons needed to harvest a pound of broccoli, or the 26 for a pound of tomatoes.
5. It benefits your wallet.
A vegetarian diet tends to be cheaper than a meat-heavy one, especially if it features inexpensive proteins like dried beans and lentils. Plus, you can buy these in bulk for a discounted price without having to worry about expiration dates.
6. It’s a way to come together.
Like most people, you likely have co-workers, friends, family members and neighbors who shy away from trying plant-based dishes.
Meatless Monday potlucks are a great way to tempt carnivorous friends to welcome more fruits, vegetables, legumes and whole grains to their lives. Pick a date and suggest that all attendees bring a meat-free dish that features a local vegetable or fruit that’s in season.
Veggie-centric potlucks are an opportunity to come together and spread the word about the movement, and you’ll likely discover a few new go-to recipes in the process. Check out our summer favorites for some inspiration.