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Go Meatless This Monday!

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Meatless MondaysThe Meatless Monday movement is growing quickly! Never heard of it? Well, celebrities like Oprah, Olivia Wilde, Bob Harper, Simon Cowell, Gwyneth Paltrow, and many more are taking the pledge and jumping on the band wagon of avoiding meat on Mondays. Wanna join them?

Meatless Monday is a non-profit initiative of the Monday Campaigns in association with the John’s Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. They provide information and recipes you need to start the week with healthy, environmentally friendly, meat-free alternatives. The goal of this initiative is to reduce meat consumption by 15 percent in order to help improve American’s overall health!

So what are the health benefits of going meatless?

  • Limits cancer risk: By consuming a diet that is high in fruits and vegetables, you may reduce your overall cancer risk.
  • Reduces risk of heart disease: Studies have shown that replacing foods high in saturated fat with foods rich in polyunsaturated fat (olive oil, nuts, seeds) may reduce the risk of developing heart disease.
  • Decreases mortality: Those people with high consumption of fruits and vegetables and low to moderate intakes of red and processed meat have lower mortality rates than people who consume high amounts of meat and have low fruit/veg intake.
  • Helps prevent obesity: Those people who have low meat or vegetarian diets have lower body weights than those who do not.
  • Improves overall diet: Add other protein sources such as beans, nuts, eggs, nuts, and legumes which can decrease overall intake of saturated fat and total fat.

How am I going to meet my nutrition needs?

Going meatless for one day a week is very unlikely to create any nutritional deficiencies. Make sure that you don’t just cut out meat, but make substitutions (see suggestions below). A great place to start to learn how to decrease meat is to read The Flexitarian Diet book by Dawn Jackson Blatner, RD. It’s aimed at people who want to be “flexible” in their diet by reducing meat but not completely eliminating it.

Here are examples of some easy substitutions:

Instead of:Try this:

*Scrambled eggs

* Tofu Pesto Scramble

*Hamburger

* Greek Lentil and Spinach Burgers

*Chicken kabobs

* BBQ Tofu Skewers

*Meat lasagna

* Easy Ovenless Veggie Lasagna

*Beef stuffed peppers

* Roasted Vegetable Napoleans

*Ham and cheese omelet

* Potato and Mushroom Frittata

*Buffalo chicken sandwich

* Buffalo Strip Sandwich

*Chicken soup

* White Bean and Greens Soup

*Grilled chicken salad

* Fig and Goat Cheese Arugula Salad 

Take the Meatless Monday pledge today! What are you going to make for your first Meatless Monday meal?

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Tags: Cooking Healthy , Healthy Eating , Nutrition , Nutrition Trends , Vegetarian

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MS, RD, CSSD, LD/N

Tara Gidus is a nationally recognized expert and spokesperson on nutrition and fitness.

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