I’m sure most of you have heard of the recent “Meatless Monday” trend. If you haven’t, it’s just dedicating one day a week (usually Mondays) to not eating any meat. Many people are trying out Meatless Mondays to be healthier, save money or be more environmentally friendly; and by making this one change, they’re successfully doing it all.
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) estimates that the average American eats about 55 pounds of beef per year. Although meat is a great protein source, too much of anything is going to have negative effects on your health. Red and processed meats contain saturated fat (which can raise blood cholesterol levels) and are also listed as probable carcinogens by the American Cancer Society.
While consuming meat is not a bad thing and isn’t something you have to cut out of your diet, cutting back just one day a week can have major benefits for both you and the environment. As stated before, most Americans eat more than the recommended amount of protein; however, Americans aren’t consuming the proper amounts of fruits or vegetables. And while meat may be a good source of protein, fruits and vegetables contain other vital nutrients that meat doesn’t have.
Fiber is one of these nutrients. Fiber helps you stay full longer and can help control diabetes and blood glucose levels. Plant foods also contain phytonutrients (“phyto-” meaning “plant”) that animal foods don’t provide. You may have heard of different phytonutrients such as antioxidants, phytochemicals, carotenoids, or other names. Phytonutrients have been shown to have a positive effect on your body and help to protect your cells from damage that could lead to cancer. Therefore, consumption of plant foods is more protective to your body than animal foods, due to the phytonutrients and antioxidants in plant foods.
There are many ways to go meatless without going hungry. Legumes – beans, peas and lentils - are all great meatless alternatives to leave you satisfied and keep you full! Beans and other legumes are a great source of fiber, iron, potassium, magnesium, and folate, as well as protein. They are low in fat, cholesterol, and sodium. Legumes are also a much cheaper alternative to meat, so while you’re saving your health, you’ll also be saving your wallet!
Participating in a Meatless Monday (or any other day of the week) is a great way to slowly decrease your meat consumption. Changing your eating habits just for one day can help you to decrease the amount of animal protein you consume in a week and live healthier. Follow the trend & have a meatless Monday. Trust me, your wallet and your future self will be happy you made the switch!
Here is a delicious recipe from truroots that swaps out the meat for lentils in sloppy joes!
Lentil Sloppy Joes
For 10 sandwiches
60 minutes total preparation
1 Tablespoon olive oil
½ cup finely chopped onion
1/3 cup finely chopped green bell peppers
3 ¼ cups water
2 cups lentils
1 ½ cups ketchup
2 teaspoons mustard
2 Tablespoons brown cane sugar
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
Whole wheat pitas or buns, or sweet potatoes to serve
Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onions and peppers. Sauté until softened.
Add water. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce to simmer. Stir in lentils. Cook 25 to 30 minutes or until lentils are tender.
Add ketchup, mustard, brown sugar, vinegar, salt and pepper. Simmer, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes until slightly thickened.
Serve in pitas, on a whole wheat bun or over a sweet potato and enjoy!