A recent study revealed that consumers, especially Gen Z-ers (born between 1995 and 2010), are shifting their eating habits towards more plant-based foods. The research found that while 79% of Gen Z-ers choose to go meatless once or twice a week, 65% said they want a more “plant-forward” diet.
If you too are looking to integrate more fresh fruit and vegetables into your diet without committing fully to being vegetarian or vegan, going meatless once a week is a great place to start. Working Meatless Mondays into your weekly diet will help you to gradually decrease the amount of meat and animal products you eat while increasing your fruit, veggie, nut, and whole-grain intake. Eating more consciously and in a well-balanced way can do wonders not only for your health but for the health of the planet too.
Here are five reasons to go vegetarian on Mondays:
1. You’ll reap the health benefits
Meat-free eating used to have a bad rep for potential nutritional deficiencies, however, more recent research shows that plant-based foods are full of key nutrients and can even help reduce the risk for many chronic conditions. For example, one study analysed individuals following a vegan, lacto-ovo-vegetarian, semi-vegetarian, pesco-vegetarian, and non-vegetarian diets. It found that the vegan group had the lowest risk for cancer, heart disease, and hypertension. More so, considering the vegans consumed the most fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes, this group also had the highest levels of beta-carotene, fiber, and omega-3 fatty acids, and the lowest level of saturated fatty acids – a massive contributor to high cholesterol and heart disease.
2. You’ll save some money
Your bank account is another area that will definitely benefit from plant-based eating – even if it’s just one day of the week. There’s no denying that meat and other animal products are usually more expensive than fresh produce and plant-based proteins like legumes. For example, a tin of black beans is a fraction of the price of beef or chicken, and you’ll be getting an impressive 15g protein in one cup serving.
3. You’ll still meet your protein goals
Speaking of protein, the above is but one example that proves that plant-forward eating doesn’t mean less protein. In fact, beans, lentils, nuts, tofu, pea-, soy- and rice-based protein powders are all great sources of protein, fiber, and important vitamins and minerals. Add some of these underrated gems to soups, stews, or salads to up your protein intake, or make yourself a quick and easy plant-based protein shake for a filling and nutritious option on the go.
4. You’ll expand your tastebuds (without sacrificing your faves)
One of the best things about plant-based eating is that you can still eat the foods you love – you are simply replacing meat ingredients with plant alternatives. Instead of ordering your usual meat lover’s pizza on a Saturday night, you can spend time with your loved ones making healthy homemade pizzas, topped with delicious veggies you’ve never tried before. Meat-free eating, even one day a week, gives you a chance to eat all the colours of the rainbow, discovering new fruits and vegetables, and stepping out of your comfort zone to become a more adventurous eater and creative cook.
5. You’ll make a positive impact on the environment
Arguably the most important reason, cutting back on meat can make a huge difference for the environment and the future of our planet. A recent United Nations report revealed that the meat industry causes almost 40% more greenhouse gas emissions than all the world’s transportation systems combined. It is also a major source of land and water degradation.
By replacing some of your meat with nutritious veggies, fruits, legumes, and whole grains, you’ll be mixing things up. And all in all, going meat-free for one day of the week is a win-win for your health, wallet, taste buds, and environment.