Meatless Monday! Improve Your Health Drastically One Monday At a TimeNutrition
By Joy Stephenson-Laws, JD, Founder
I recently came across the phrase “Meatless Monday” and wondered what it was about. So, I decided to do some research.
What is Meatless Monday?
In a nutshell, it is exactly what it sounds like: not eating meat on Mondays. But it is so much more than that. Meatless Monday is a global public health campaign, with 44 countries currently participating. It started in 2003 by Sid Lerner in partnership with the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.
“In 2000, the Surgeon General released the Healthy People 2010 report outlining health objectives for the nation to serve as goals for the next decade. Healthy People 2010 specifically called for a 15% reduction in saturated fat in the American diet. Since saturated fat in the diet is almost exclusively of animal origin and one day of the week is just under 15% of the week, the campaign began by encouraging people to refrain from eating meat one day a week to help reach this goal,” according to John Hopkins.
What is the benefit of cutting back on meat?
A study, published by the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), compared plant and animal proteins. The study examined 131,342 people (85,013 women, 46,329 men), and lifestyle factors, like smoking and alcohol consumption, were taken into consideration.
“Replacing animal protein of various origins with plant protein was associated with lower mortality,” the study reported. “High animal protein intake was positively associated with cardiovascular mortality and high plant protein intake was inversely associated with all-cause and cardiovascular mortality…”
And after decades-long research, Harvard determined “that each additional daily serving of red meat increased risk of death by 13%. The impact rose to 20% if the serving was processed, as in food items like hot dogs, bacon, and cold cuts.”
Several other studies suggest reducing meat consumption helps maintain a healthy weight and reduces the risk of diseases including cancer, diabetes and heart disease.
Cutting back on meat may also be beneficial for the environment. Reducing meat consumption reportedly conserves water, energy and reduces the greenhouse gas emissions that are contributing to climate change.
What to do?
Moderation and balance are critical in all aspects of life, including your diet. Many people may eat too much meat, and much of that meat sometimes includes processed meats.
If you eat meat, the Mayo Clinic has a good rule of thumb. “The Daily Value for protein is 50 grams based on a 2,000-calorie diet,” according to the Mayo Clinic. “Of course, your individual protein needs will vary based on factors such as body size, medical conditions and activity level. Adults generally need about 5 ½ ounces of proteins a day — and remember you can choose from more than meat.”
A proportion of 5 ½ ounces is not a lot. Many of us are eating more than enough of our daily protein needs, and a lot of it is coming from animal proteins.
Measure the proportion size of your steak or chicken breast by the size of your hand, excluding your fingers.
So, is Meatless Monday for you if you like to eat meat every day?
It absolutely is! Do not be intimidated. There are many non-animal sources of protein including quinoa, lentils, chickpeas, nuts, beans, amaranth, oats, buckwheat and more. And if you can make a habit of making antioxidant-rich, inflammation and disease fighting fruits and veggies the star of your plate, you will help lower your risk of developing some of the most life-threatening diseases.
Don’t think of going meatless as depriving yourself. Use Meatless Monday as an opportunity to explore and use plant-based foods in ways you never have before. You can make it fun by including the whole family or checking out that local vegetarian restaurant you have always been curious about.
One of my favorite vegan restaurants is “My Vegan.” You might have something similar in your neighborhood, and it might be worth the time to search for vegan restaurants close to your home.
If you commit to Meatless Monday for one year, that’s just 52 days of no meat while still doing something great for your health and the environment. You may even find yourself going meatless more than just on Mondays!
If you are vegan or vegetarian or are already a Meatless Monday participant, please feel free to share your tips and recipes.
Let’s explore the journey of being proactive about our health together.
Healthy food and moderation, after all, is medicine.
Enjoy your healthy life!
The pH professional health care team includes recognized experts from a variety of health care and related disciplines, including physicians, attorneys, nutritionists, nurses and certified fitness instructors. This team also includes the members of the pH Medical Advisory Board, which constantly monitors all pH programs, products and services. To learn more about the pH Medical Advisory Board, click here.