How to Get Started with Meatless Monday
Meatless Monday is a lifestyle that allows you to continue to eat the foods you love, while making your meals incrementally healthier and more sustainable. The concept is straightforward: “cut out the meat, one day a week.” Yep, the simple act of eating only plant-based foods on Monday can be life changing.
People who start their week with Meatless Monday tend to eat healthier all week long. An overwhelming body of research shows that consuming less red and processed meat and more plant-based foods can lower your risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, chronic kidney disease, type 2 diabetes, certain cancers, and obesity. Individuals who eat a plant-based diet usually consume fewer overall calories, fewer calories from fat and more fiber, potassium, and vitamin C.
But like any other new health resolution, the key to success is consistency. Diets tend to fail because they’re either too extreme or too much of a departure from one’s regular eating routine, making them unsustainable. Meatless Monday doesn’t require any sort of calorie counting or complicated point system, and it only takes one day to get started. It’s simply a framework to help you explore all the delicious benefits of plant-based foods. And once you see how easy it is to go meatless on Monday, maybe you’ll want to reduce your meat consumption other days of the week, too.
So what’s the best way to get started with Meatless Monday? We’ve compiled a list of information and resources to make it easier to prepare more plant-based meals, without having to sacrifice any of the qualities that make food and eating one of life’s greatest gifts. This Monday, sign up for the Meatless Monday newsletter and enjoy the innumerable benefits of plant-based eating.
Know the Benefits
Participating in Meatless Monday comes with numerous health and environmental benefits, and, by knowing them, you’ll stay motivated to continue week after week. Eating less red and processed meat and more plant-based foods can reduce your risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes, help maintain a healthy weight, and promote kidney health, while also reducing the production of greenhouse gasses that negatively impact climate change. For a more detailed explanation of all the benefits of Meatless Monday, click here.
Set a Weekly Reminder
Consistency is key to maintaining healthy habits, and thanks to technology, there are a number of different ways to stay on track. The easiest option is subscribing to the Meatless Monday newsletter, where you’ll receive an email each week highlighting plant-based recipes, as well as an article with delicious plant-based information. Another way is setting a calendar reminder on Sunday, so that you have an extra day to prepare.
A properly stocked pantry can be a lifesaver on days that you don’t have a meal plan. With the right staple ingredients, you can mix and match to create tons of different dishes, ranging from chickpea Marsala to lentil Bolognese to black bean burgers. Dried pastas, canned beans, dried lentils, vegetable stock, nuts, seeds, spices, grains, polenta, and sauces like tahini, soy sauce, and barbecue sauce are all excellent ingredients to have in stock, but for a more complete rundown, check out our list of essential Meatless Monday pantry staples.
There’s a myth that you can’t get enough protein from plants, but nutritional science disagrees! There are tons of different sources of plant-based proteins that are inexpensive, easy to use, and capable of standing in for animal products in a number of dishes. Whether it’s chicken, beef, pork, or seafood, you’ll find that there’s a plant-protein option available to satisfy your meat cravings.
Meatless Monday is an opportunity to step out of your culinary comfort zone and explore new tasty recipes. You’ll find yourself using ingredients that you may have overlooked or never even heard of before. To get those creative juices flowing, check out our list of top Meatless Monday recipes of all time or browse our plant-based recipe library for some more culinary inspiration. Sharing recipes between friends is another way to get exposed to different foods and flavor combinations.
Make a Meal Plan
Planning out meals in advance will help you organize your supermarket shopping trips and reduce the stress of having to come up with a week’s worth of meals on the fly. And with a properly stocked pantry, you’ll be able to make a number of breakfasts, lunches, and dinners with limited ingredients. If you need some inspiration before getting started, check out the Meatless Monday six-week meal plan.
If you’re new to plant-based eating then just focus on the dishes you already love. You can recreate nearly every classic comfort food—nuggets, mac and cheese, wings, burgers, shepherd’s pie, ice cream, meatloaf—using only plant-based ingredients.
The best way to control those pesky meat cravings is to always have healthy snacks on hand. Whether they’re in your purse, backpack, or kitchen cabinet, snacks like nuts, seeds, granola bars, fresh fruit, veggies and hummus, or even peanut butter and jelly can help you overcome a desire for junk food. If you don’t mind doing a little cooking, try making these recipes for when you’re craving a quick bite.
Having family and friends participate in Meatless Monday will help keep you committed and accountable. It’s also more fun. Text groups, recipe swaps, and plant-based dinner parties are great ways to get everyone involved. And for the passive participant, there’s the Meatless Monday Newsletter or Meatless Monday Challenge which you can start with a couple clicks.
Click here for more Meatless Monday recipes. When posting pictures of recipes to your social media network, tag @MeatlessMonday use #MeatlessMonday to show the plant-based community your creation.