It’s a phenomenon you may have heard about: people all around the world are going meat-free on Mondays in an effort to start the week off on a healthy note. While contemporary Meatless Mondays was revamped in 2003 and taken global in 2009, the original movement goes all the way back to World War I.
A brief history of Meatless Mondays
Minimizing the consumption of staples like meat and wheat during World War I and II was observed by over 13 million families to aid in the war effort. In addition to Meatless Mondays, participants also did Wheatless Wednesdays. These days, the movement is much more about health and bringing awareness to illnesses that have a tie to a high consumption of meat. In addition to the United States, Meatless Mondays is an active movement in 28 other countries.
Why go meatless?
Though a well-rounded diet can certainly include meat, there are several benefits to going without one day a week.
- Reduce your risk of cancer. Studies have shown that eating more fruits and vegetables can lower your cancer risk, and colon cancer has been specifically linked to red meat consumption.
- Reduce your risk of heart disease. Some meats are higher in saturated fats, so replacing your consumption of meat with foods rich in polyunsaturated fats, like nuts, can help lower your risk of heart disease.
- Lose weight. While avoiding meat one day a week likely won’t make a huge difference to your overall diet, it can help establish healthier habits that could lead to long term weight-loss benefits.
- Help the environment. If you’re concerned about your carbon footprint, going without meat for a day can make a big difference. According to the Meatless Monday website, the meat industry is responsible for one-fifth of man-made greenhouse gas emissions.
The bottom line
If you’re looking to make small changes in your diet that can add up considerably over time, going meatless for one day a week might be a good first step. However, bear in mind that, when prepared properly and with the right portions, meat can be part of a healthy diet. We’d also recommend checking out the official website for Meatless Monday for more information on the movement.
Have you ever tried Meatless Mondays? Share your experiences (and recipes!) in the comments section below.