"Meatless Mondays," a non-profit organization that works in collaboration with Johns Hopkins Bloomberg of School of Public Health, is a nationwide campaign to address public health and reduce the incidences of the four leading causes of premature death: strokes, heart disease, diabetes and cancer. The goal of this campaign is to reduce the consumption of saturated fat in the diet by at least 15%. The main efforts include encouraging people to make better choices in their eating and meal planning. This campaign does not encourage people to become vegetarians, but merely works as a health advocate to inspire people to make better choices and reduce the toxins we ingest on a weekly basis. According to the campaign, "meatless" means no beef, pork, poultry or full-fat dairy products; fish is acceptable. Above and beyond the "meatless" portion, the campaign highly encourages increasing food and vegetable intake and exercising at least 30 minutes per day.
There are 3 top reasons for choosing to go vegetarian one day per week. First, it is surprisingly good for the environment. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization estimate the meat industry generates nearly 1/5th of the man-made greenhouse gas emissions. Eating meatless just one day per week can reduce your carbon footprint. The second reason, as stated above, is to reduce your overall cholesterol and the prevalence of bad fats in your body. Finally, diversifying your diet will boost your intake of antioxidants, fiber, bioflavinoids, polyphenols and micronutrients. By eating more whole grains, fruits and vegetables, you increase your consumption of nutrients proven to fight for you.
According to the research, the average person cutting out high-fat meat and dairy products one day a week will reduce their overall saturated fat consumption by 15%. A diet with 15% less saturated fat is recommended by the American Heart Association, Healthy People 2010, the US Departments of Health and Human Services, and the USDA. This lower fat consumption could have notable results on health outcomes. Those already at risk or predisposed to higher risk could benefit from permanent changes to their daily diets, like incorporating meatless substitutes, lean proteins and low-fat dairy products. Eliminating high saturated fats from the diet has been proven to significantly reduce negative health effects.
There are several protein-rich alternatives to high fat and saturated fat, including the following:
- Tofu - A soy protein derivative that takes on flavors of anything it is cooked with. Tofu can be an excellent way to reduce high calorie, high fat from your diet. Try it mixed with ricotta cheese for a lasagna or pasta filling.
- Dried beans (black, pinto, red, etc.) or lentils - Excellent sources of protein. Try mixing them in soups or with rice for a fulfilling meal.
- Whole wheat pasta - Fortified with whole grain and fiber. Mix it up with onions, artichokes, and/or spinach.
Angela Hattaway is a Nutritionist and Personal Trainer with over 15 years experience. She got her BS in Nutrition and Dietetics from Stephen F. Austin State University and she also has a Master's Degree in Business with an emphasis on Healthcare. Angela is experienced in working with both children and adults and loves working with clients to help them set realistic goals and expectations. She is passionate about nutrition and fitness and feels this comes through when she works with people. Angela loves giving clients the tools, motivation and encouragement they need to be successful throughout their lives. Visit her blog at blog.ultimatenutritionnfitness.com. She can be reached via email at at firstname.lastname@example.org.