Meatless Monday began during the world wars as a way to preserve meat for the troops. But a growing troop of locals still refrains from meat on Mondays as a way to better their health and the environment.
“Our goal is to help you reduce your meat consumption by 15 percent in order to improve your personal health and the health of the planet,” according to the website www.meatlessmonday.com. “By cutting out meat once a week, we can improve our health, reduce our carbon footprint and lead the world in the race to reduce climate change.”
Why Mondays? The website explains: “Studies suggest we are more likely to maintain behaviors begun on Monday throughout the week. That makes Monday the perfect day to make a change for your health and the health of our planet.”
Who’s doing it
Health advocate Sid Lerner revived Meatless Monday in 2003 in an attempt to help prevent disease. The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health’s Center for a Livable Future and 30 public health schools endorsed the movement, which now has hospitals, schools, workplaces, restaurants, families and individuals participating around the world, according to meatlessmonday.com.
In Ogden, McKay-Dee Hospital Center offers meatless entrees on Monday, and the local blog indieogden.com often includes a Meatless Monday recipe. Last Spring, the Weber State University’s Animal Unanimity club convinced the school’s contracted dining provider Sodexo to offer only meatless products in the Wildcat dining room on Mondays.
“We brought Meatless Monday to the WSU Wildcat room as a subtle way to get students and staff to cut meat from their diet,” said club member and Weber State University sophomore Raychel Johnson. “To eat even one vegetarian or vegan mean per day will do volumes for the environment and your health. As a club we are going grass roots to make people aware there are alternatives.”
Jessica Alford, the director of operations for Sodexo at Weber State, said the change has been a positive one for the school.
“At Sodexo, we embrace the Meatless Monday movement, especially within the campus division, because of the environmental impact and the health and wellness impact,” she said. “Spring semester 2012 we started offering vegetarian entrees, salad bar and soup bar on Mondays. We provide substantial options like vegetarian lasagna and eggplant parm. A couple of people grumble, but there has been far more positive response than negative. Someone asked ‘Why are you trying to make me vegetarian?’ but that is the farthest thing from our mind. It’s to promote healthy behavior and to start the week in a healthy and positive way.”
McKay-Dee Hospital registered dietitian Grant Cefalo said he doesn’t necessarily go meatless on Monday, but it is something he likes to do once or twice a week.
“It’s cheaper. You don’t have to have meat at every meal. The benefit to a meatless meal is that meat has higher fat and it’s a good way to help cut calories,” he said, “My family does it for variety to try new foods. You save on the pocketbook and it’s healthier and cuts out fat. You can get protein other ways. Beans are lower in fat and a good source of protein.”
Meatlessmonday.com lists a number of benefits for a diet low in meat and high in fruits and vegetables:
• Lowers risk of cancer and type 2 diabetes.
• Curbs obesity.
• Helps you live longer.
• Provides better nutrition, including more fiber, folate, zinc, iron and magnesium, with less fat.
• Reduces your carbon footprint because the meat industry generates one-fifth of man-made greenhouse gas emissions.
• Minimizes water use since plants and vegetables have lower water needs than livestock.
• Reduces fossil fuel dependence because 40 calories of fossil fuel energy go into every calorie of feedlot beef.
Local experts agree eating more plants and less meat is a good idea.
“I love the idea from a more sustainable food system perspective and health. The mass produced animal meat of America has some uncertain, potentially hazardous chemicals in the tissue,” said Joan Thompson, associate professor of nutrition at Weber State University.
Rod Hansen, also an associate professor of nutrition at Weber State, said meatless Monday can be a helpful tool in following the nutritional advice of choosemyplate.gov and the American Dietetic Association.
“These organizations all emphasize protein intake from more vegetable types like beans instead of meat,” he said. “From that perspective, one meatless day per week can be good. Going meatless has a religious connotation, but if it fits in with the recommendations, why not?”
EASY MEAL IDEAS FOR MEATLESS MONDAY
• Peanut butter sandwich
• Bean burrito
• Split pea soup
• Vegan chili — use zucchini, Boca meatless crumbles and tomatoes
• Tofu with roasted veggies — tofu will absorb the flavor of anything. Try it with herbs like thyme or rosemary.
• Ask the server to leave the meat out of your favorite entrée when dining out
• Look for help online — there are many resources for beginning vegetarians. WSU’s Animal Unanimity Facebook page and www.meatlessmonday.com are good places to start.
Sources: Ogden Regional Medical Center registered dietitian Jennifer James, and Weber State University student Raychel Johnson
Recipes are from www.meatlessmonday.com.
Bean Burgers with Chipotle Spread
1/2 cup nonfat mayonnaise or 1/2 cup dairy-free mayonnaise alternative
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
2-3 chipotle chilies in adobo sauce (sold in cans and jars at Mexican markets or the Mexican food section of grocery stores)
1 tablespoon adobo sauce from chipotle peppers
In a food processor, combine the mayonnaise, lime juice, chipotle chilies and adobo sauce. Pulse until smooth and well blended.
Oil or cooking spray, to prepare the baking sheet
1 14-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 red bell pepper
1/2 onion, cut into wedges
3 cloves garlic, peeled
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1-2 teaspoons chili sauce or hot sauce
3/4 cup bread crumbs
4 whole wheat buns, toasted
In a medium bowl, mash the beans with a fork until they form a thick paste, but retain some lumps for texture. Add the bell pepper, onion and garlic to a food processor. Pulse until finely chopped. Stir the veggie mixture into the mashed beans. Stir the egg, chili powder, cumin, salt and chili sauce together in a small bowl. Stir the egg mixture into the mashed beans. Mix in the bread crumbs until the mixture is sticky and holds together. Divide the mixture into four patties. Place the bean patties on a baking sheet and bake at 375 for about 10 minutes on each side or place the patties on foil and grill over medium heat for about eight minutes on each side. Spread a thin layer of the chipotle mayonnaise over the toasted buns. Put a bean burger and your favorite burger veggies inside the bun. Makes four servings.
Per serving: 331.7 calories (54 calories from fat), 6 grams fat (1.4 grams saturated), 52.8 milligrams cholesterol, 1,029.4 milligrams sodium, 510.4 milligrams potassium, 55.9 grams carbohydrates, 10.1 grams fiber
12 corn tortillas
1 12-ounce can vegetarian chili
8 ounces low-fat cheddar cheese
1 onion, chopped
16 ounces no-salt-added tomato sauce
2 teaspoons onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon cumin
Place tortillas in 1/2 inch of water in a microwaveable container with a lid. Cover and place in microwave for 1 minute. Sauté onion in cooking spray in skillet. Heat the chili. While chili is warming, grate cheese and place it on the end of a corn tortilla, then roll tightly. Repeat with remaining tortillas. Layer in 9-by-13-inch pan, then pour chili on top. Top with cheese and chopped onion. Bake in oven for approximately 20 minutes at 350 degrees. For the sauce, combine tomato sauce, onion powder, garlic powder, chili powder, cumin and oregano. Mix, heat and place on top of cooked enchiladas. Makes 12 servings.
Per serving: 129 calories, 2.2 grams fat (1 gram saturated), 3 milligrams cholesterol, 222 milligrams sodium, 19.8 grams carbohydrates, 3.5 grams fiber, 8 grams protein.