We’ve been trying out Meatless Monday for about two months now, and it has been going pretty well for us. It is just one of the many ways that we have been changing our diets to eating more natural whole foods. A little history, my husband grew up raising his own animals, mostly pigs, and has always believed that meat is an essential part of a meal. In fact, when we first got married, he rarely ate any fruits or vegetables at all. He really had an aversion to most veggies and it was easier to just go with it, than to fight for a food group that wasn’t one of my favorites either. We have both struggled with our weights, and after moving across the country from all of our friends, we let ourselves get really big. After realizing that we needed to make a change and lose weight, I decided to do some research into the food industry and learn about nutrition. One thing became very clear to me in my research, we needed to cut down (a lot) on how much commercial meat we consume.
Though neither my husband nor I have any intention of becoming vegetarians, we have started to view meat in an entirely different way. Instead of making it the main focal point of every meal, we are trying to limit our meat consumption to being only a quarter of our plate. It’s been difficult to re-order our thinking (especially for him) to recognizing what a healthy and appropriate serving of meat actually is. A 12 oz steak is 2-3 times as much meat as we should be eating in one sitting, despite what restaurant menus will tell us. Until I started my research, I had no idea how taxing American meat consumption is on the environment. I figured that raising animals for food has been done for thousands of years, so how bad could it be? The truth of the matter is not pretty. So for a lot of reasons, we decided to give Meatless Mondays a try.
Every Monday, I have committed to avoiding meat entirely, and Tim has committed to avoiding it for breakfast and dinner. (He gets lunch provided for him at work, so he makes the best choices that he can there.) One really positive benefit from trying to come up with a variety of choices for meatless meals is that I have had to get creative in the kitchen. I have no experience with purposely making vegetarian dishes, so at first all I could think of to eat were veggie burgers. I’m pleased to say that I now have a handful of simple “staple” vegetarian dishes that I can make without much thought or effort, and a whole host of vegetarian recipes for when I want to experiment. I’m also becoming much more interested in different vegetables, and comparing not just taste, but texture, color, and what pairs best with others. It’s been a lot of fun to have this weekly challenge of providing tasty, satisfying meals without meat that both my husband and I will love.
There is a ton of information out there about the health and environmental benefits of cutting meat out even just once a week, so I encourage you to look into it for yourself. Who knows, maybe you will want to give Meatless Monday (or Tuesday, or Friday) a try for yourself. If nothing else, I have found trying to go meatless for an entire day has made me stop taking my food choices for granted and really think about what I am eating at least one day a week, and that is something we can all benefit from.