The Meatless Monday project was started back in 2003 by a guy called Sid Lerner in association with Johns Hopkins University School of Public Health after the U.S. Surgeon General released the Healthy People 2010 report, which called for a 15 percent reduction in saturated fat in the American diet.
Since the majority of saturated fat in the American diet is of animal origin and abstaining from meat one day of the week is just about 15 percent of a week, the campaign was launched by encouraging people to give up meat one day each week to help reach this healthy living goal.
Why Mondays? Good question!
Research has shown that people are open to behavior change modifications on Mondays and view the start of the week as a good time to kick off a new healthy habit. While people tend to overindulge over the weekend, we generally view Mondays as a good day to get back on track.
The benefits of going meatless are numerous. Health benefits include:
- Reduced risk of heart disease and stroke: Making produce star of your plate has its perks. French researchers found that each daily serving of fruits or vegetables was associated with a 4 percent decrease in the rate of coronary heart disease, and a 5% lower risk of stroke.
- Reduced risk of certain types of cancer: There is evidence that red meat consumption increases the risk of cancer and that an antioxidant-rich diet filled with fruits and veggies decreases cancer risk. One day each week can make a big difference!
- Reduced risk of obesity for you and your family: The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey of 2009-2010 showed that more than one third of US adults and more than one-sixth of kids were considered to be obese. Several studies have shown that people who consume plant-based diets weigh significantly less and have a lower body mass index than meat eaters. The fiber in fruits and veggies may help reduce overeating and keep you and yours at a healthy weight.
- Improve the quality of your diet: Going meatless one day each week encourages you to try other sources of protein, such as beans. Beans are an excellent source of vegetable-based protein, as well as essential minerals such as iron, zinc, and magnesium. Beans are also known to keep cholesterol levels in check and are rich in filling fiber.
In addition to health benefits, going meatless on Mondays can help you save on your food budget. I’ve heard time and time again that eating healthy is too costly. While it is true that shopping for healthy meat-based meals can be pricey, a nutritious meal where beans, veggies, or whole grains take center stage is way more cost-effective than a fast food meal for the whole family.
It’s way easier than you think to try Meatless Mondays, and the world is catching on with 36 countries and counting in participation. For more info, including more delicious-looking recipes than you could probably ever try, as well as what’s going on in your local community check out Meatless Monday’s site.
Make a plan to go meatless next week. Monday will be here before you know it!