Written by: Phindile Le Bris Sithole-Spong
What is meat free Mondays?
Meat free Mondays is a global campaign that was started in 2009 to encourage people to go meat free on Mondays. Started by Stella, Paul and Mary McCartney, the idea of going meat free was to reduce the stress meat consumption and production has on our health and the environment. These days you can still find the movement going strong on social media pages where people post their #meatfreemondays meals to encourage others to eat less meat. Since its inception many people have taken the idea a step further and looked towards a meat free lifestyle or just reducing meat consumption as a whole.
Why go meat free?
I'll admit to liking a big juicy steak every now and then. Or even a delicious roast chicken. But as we all know by now, eating meat every single day is not only bad for us but also for the environment. As someone from a meat eating country I can honestly say that I never thought I would ever endorse meat free anything. But as I've started to look at my lifestyle and how it affects my health and our environment. I can say that I am a convert. Not only has cutting back meat been great for my overall health, but its also made me more creative in the kitchen.
I now can appreciate the taste of a good vegetable, and I find that I crave meat less. Not only that but my skin, digestive system and anxiety have all been reduced thanks to cutting back on meat. Gone are the days of making meals with meat as the star of the show and veggies as the sad side kick. Nowadays restaurants, chefs, food bloggers and even home cooks like myself are getting inventive when it comes to cooking vegetables. Which is great considering that we all can do with more vegetables in our diets.
One of my go to's include broccoli lightly cooked in coconut oil and Italian herbs and pasta finished off with toasted pine nuts. Or for colder days, I love nothing more than a big bowl of butternut and pumpkin soup or a more hearty three bean soup. But even with my strong arsenal of veggie centric recipes, I still need a firm reminder of why meat free days are important.
What are the health benefits of going meat free?
- One of the main benefits of eating less meat is weight management. This does not mean you will suddenly lose a ton of weight. Instead, due to the fat found in most meat, reducing how much meat you eat will help with weight management if you replace this with vegetables (sorry, fries don't count).
- Better gut health. This may be a little too much information but as someone who struggled to stay regular. I have found that reducing my meat consumption has helped with my bowel movements and keeping me regular. Especially as I focus on eating whole grains and good vegetables more.
- Reducing meat has been shown to reduce chances of getting certain cancers.
- Eating less meat is known to be better for your heart health.
The environmental benefits of going meat free
We can all agree that there is no one solution to help slow down climate change. Which is why going meat free a few times a week can have a meaningful impact on our environment by reducing greenhouse emissions that are produced during meat production and farming. This is just one easy way to slow down climate change and do your part.
How to start going meat free
Going meat free may seem like more trouble than it is worth but for the most part once you have the basics it is pretty easy. The first is to stock up on fruits and vegetables that you do like and find fun and interesting ways to cook them. Next up is to look at meat alternatives like fish which I must admit was hard for me at first having grown up without much seafood in my diet. After lots of trial and error however I have found that I enjoy a good salmon fillet, some juicy prawns, calamari or even fresh mackerel when done right. I am no where near being a seafood expert but I am learning and so can you.