While vegetarians go “meatless” every day, there is a growing movement across the country and even the world for the rest of us to do “Meatless Monday’s” once a week. Following this trend can help your health and your bank account too. Meals without meat aren’t a new thing; families were encouraged to take a meatless day during World War II to spread the food around to soldiers and allies in other countries.
The benefits of going meatless today include:
- Reducing your risk of cancer – There are numerous studies that link consumption of red or processed meats to colon cancer, while studies also show that a diet rich in vegetables and fruits may decrease the risk of certain cancers.
- Reducing risk of heart disease and stroke – By reducing consumption of the saturated fats in red meats you may also protect yourself again cardiovascular disease and stroke. At the same time an increase in whole grains, vegetables including beans, and fruit provide protective factors against the same health conditions.
- Preventing obesity – Diets high in vegetables and fruits are higher in fiber, which will make you feel full quicker and typically contain fewer calories.
- Spreading your food budget further – Most vegetables, beans, grains, and eggs can be used in recipes for less money than meats (red or white). Saving that money for a few months may give you the money for a family fun day, new games for family night, or just reduce your budget when finances are tight.
If you are looking for meatless recipes try:
- What’s Cooking, the USDA Mixing Bowl – search Vegetarian options.
- Fruits and Veggies More Matters – search Vegetarian.
- Meatless Monday – or search the Meatless Monday site.
A new favorite meatless recipe for me is Veggie Taco’s. Replace the ground meat in your taco with a peeled and chopped carrot and sweet potato (to speed up the process after chopping, microwave a few minutes with ¼ cup of water). Add a can of diced tomatoes and rinsed black beans to your seasonings and mix all ingredients in a skillet. Bring to a simmering bowl and heat for about 10 minutes to thicken. Top a whole grain taco shell with your meatless taco mixture, and chopped lettuce, tomato, and cheese. Trust me; you won’t miss the meat at all. Good additions are chopped peppers and a small chopped zucchini too.
Writer: Lisa Barlage, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Ross County.
Reviewer: Donna Green, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Erie County.