Interested In Going Vegetarian? First, Try Meatless Monday

With a new year comes big plans for becoming a better version of yourself. For some, that means a diet overhaul. If you’ve always been interested in the vegetarian lifestyle but haven’t taken the step of cutting out meat completely, dipping a toe into vegetarian waters with Meatless Monday could be a great place to start. The concept was started in 2003 by Sid Lerner and the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health with the goal of reducing meat consumption by 15% to benefit both your personal health and the health of the planet. The recently updated food guide from Health Canada also recommends making an effort to choose plant-based proteins more often.

Here are a few reasons why you should try to make Meatless Mondays a part of your life:

You’ll have to get creative
You probably don’t realize how much you rely on meat until you have to start thinking of meal ideas that have a source of protein that isn’t meat. There are plenty of options out there including beans, lentils, eggs, dairy, nuts, and even whole grains. Experiment with different types of salads using beans or cheese as the main protein. Put your slow cooker to good use with a big batch of vegetarian chilli. Thinking outside the box, trying new recipes, and adapting old favourites to meet your meat-free needs can be fun and you’ll probably discover a few dishes you never would have thought to try before.

You’ll get into a routine
Like it or not, maintaining a healthy lifestyle is all about your daily habits. When you’re really busy, choosing the right food for a balanced meal every time isn’t always easy. Sometimes having guidelines to follow or knowing you need to plan ahead a little can help you make better choices. If you know you’re going to be avoiding meat on Monday, you’ll make sure to have alternate options available. After a few weeks, it will become a routine and the planning ahead thing might extend to the rest of the week.

You’ll get an idea of how it makes you feel
If you’re doing Meatless Monday as a kind of test run before trying to go vegetarian, you’ll be able to get a better idea of how you feel when you eat different types of proteins. You’ll also start paying closer attention to things like vegetarian options at your favourite restaurants, ways you can modify your favourite meals, and how much effort you need to put into meal prepping. Vegetarianism definitely isn’t for everyone and going cold turkey might not be the best approach. Starting with one day of the week and then taking it from there will help you ease into the lifestyle change and make choices that are more sustainable in the long run.

Planet earth will thank you too
A new diet called the “planetary health diet” was created by an international commission that is looking into creating nutrition guidelines for the world’s growing population. Scientists believe that our current system of raising and processing livestock is a huge threat to the planet as a whole because it generates as much greenhouse gas emissions as all automobiles combined. And did you know it takes 425 gallons of water to produce a single 1/4 pound hamburger? That’s the equivalent of 6,800 glasses of fresh drinking water.

You don’t have to cut out red meat completely to make a difference. You can do your part by being more conscious of your meat consumption and making it a point to choose plant-based options more often. It might not seem like a lot, but if everyone adopted Meatless Monday it would have a noticeable impact on the environment—and that’s a great place to start.

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