The trend to go meat-free one day per week started with the Meatless Monday’s campaign back in 2011. It was a response to the Healthy People 2010 report. The report suggested that saturated fat intake should be less than 10% of the total daily caloric intake.
Going meat-free one day per week meets that goal and in the process improves your health and reduces your carbon footprint.
From the health aspect, eating vegetarian 1/7th of the time can help you lose weight, lower cholesterol and blood pressure. It also reduces the risk of heart disease, colorectal cancer and Type 2 diabetes.
According to a study done by Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH), eating 3.5 ounces (100 grams) of unprocessed red meat increases the risk of Type 2 diabetes by 19%. The risk increases if it’s processed meat. By eating a 1.8 ounce (50 gram) serving of processed meat, it increases that risk by 51%. Plus it also increased the risk of heart disease by 42%.
The Plant Protein Advantage
One difference between the protein you get from animal and vegetable sources is the amino acids they contain. Amino acids join to form chains which are called protein. There are 9 essential amino acids you need to get from your diet because your body doesn’t produce them. If a food contains all the essential amino acids, it’s called a complete protein. Most vegetables are incomplete proteins, but they can be combined to make up a complete protein.
Quinoa, buckwheat, chia and soy are complete plant-based protein sources. To show the advantage of plant protein, let’s compare a 1-cup serving of shredded beef and the same of quinoa. Beef has approximately 23 grams of fat (9 grams are saturated fat) and 105 mg of cholesterol. On average a cup of quinoa has 5 grams of fat and 0mg of cholesterol.
Reducing Your Carbon Footprint
It takes a lot of resources to raise the farm animals used for meat. For example, it takes 1,800 to 2,500 gallons of water to raise just one pound of beef. It only takes 39 gallons to produce a pound of vegetables. If you reduced your consumption of meat by 20%, it would have the same effect as switching from a gas-powered vehicle to a hybrid.
Regardless if you decide to go meatless on Monday (or any other day of the week for that matter) for health or environmental reasons, you automatically help yourself or the world by doing so. And who knows, you might decide to eat less or no meat on other days of the week too.