Reducing your family’s consumption of meat has benefits to the environment and to your health. The jump to a vegetarian lifestyle can be extreme; however, introducing one meatless meal a week can let you experience some of the benefits of a vegetarian way of life. This schedule lets you try the meatless life without having to take on the full commitment. You may even find that being a vegetarian household is something you wish to explore further.
It is clear that meat takes a lot of resources, and is a large portion of your household food costs. There are also many health benefits that can be seen from moving away from meat, even for just a single evening every week.
You will find that there are many different ways to easily replace meat. You can use the same recipes, with only a few easy modifications. Providing your family tasty, nutritious, and meatless meals is something that you can do.
Environmental Impact of Meat
At the consumer level, meat takes a significant amount of resources to produce. Land, water, and feed are all required to run a commercial farm. Plant based diets need much less resources, and can provide the nutrients you need with a reduced environmental footprint.
In addition to the resources required, farm animals produce a lot of waste. Cattle raised with the intent to become beef produce more greenhouse gases than cars. This is a significant amount of climate change potential from just a single industry.
Reduced Food Costs
Meat is one of the most expensive aspects to grocery shopping. This is not surprising considering the amount of resources required to produce the commonly consumed meat products.
Many of the meatless alternative can be purchased in bulk and are non-perishable. This further reduces costs, and means you are not paying to keep these products refrigerated. Even switching to just one night a week, meatless meals can reduce your food budget by almost 10%.
Many meat products are tied to increase risk of numerous diseases. Heart disease, cancer, and diabetes are being linked to the consumption of red meat and processed meat products. Reducing your consumption can reduce your risk.
Meatless meals offer a greater variety of food because you are not relying on meat for your protein source. This wide variety in food products helps provide more of the vitamins and minerals that belong in a healthy diet.
It is important that your family still receive adequate levels of nutrition, even when consuming your meatless Monday meal. You can find many different ways to prepare dishes, which are nutrient rich, delicious, and free of meat products.
There are a vast amount of bean varieties that can be used as a meat alternative. They are high in vitamins and minerals, rich in protein, and have a texture that is closely related to ground beef.
One way to incorporate beans into meatless Monday is to substitute the meat for beans. You can add cooked kidney beans into your favorite chili recipe, which creates an easy meatless meal with flavors your family is already familiar with.
You can also use beans as a meat substitute for burgers. Cooked black beans can be combined with eggs, breadcrumbs, and seasoning of your choice to make savory meatless patties. Top them with your favorite condiments and enjoy.
When you are looking for healthy fat and protein, look to eggs. With 13 grams of protein in each one, eggs can easily provide the protein for your meal. You can prepare them in any of the traditional ways, but if you want to try something new, try eggs in soup.
Poaching a couple of eggs in a soup broth is a quick and easy way to add some protein to a meal. Take a vegetable stock and heat it to a gentle boil. Carefully break two eggs into the soup, and then let cook for five minutes. That is all it takes to make a healthy meatless dinner that tastes great, and has the nutrition that your body needs.
There are many different dairy products on the market, and you can use any of them to add a bit of protein to your dinner. You can take a lasagna, and add several different varieties of cheese to provide the protein; they might not even notice that the meat is gone.
The highest protein content from dairy usually comes in the forms of cheese, yogurt, and whey. There are usually high protein versions of all of these foods, so read the labels to find the products best suited for your family.
Tofu is a very common meat replacement product. It is made from soymilk, and can be found in many different varieties. You can find tofu that comes in an assortment of textures, and you can mix and match until you find one that your family enjoys the most.
Tofu has very little taste itself, and will pick up the flavors of any dish you add it to. This makes it extremely versatile in the kitchen. You can easily switch out some tofu for meat in any of your favorite casseroles.
Implementing Meatless Monday
With all the different ways to add protein and taste to a meal, your family might not even notice that you’re feeding them a meatless meal. With meals that do not contain meat, your family can focus on the flavor of the dish.
With including this small change, you can still enjoy nights out, and not be troubled by constantly finding a meatless alternative for every dish you enjoy. This makes dinning out easier, and means you can enjoy social events without being a burden to your host.
There are some nutrient requirements that vegetarians must be diligent in including in their diets. The primary concern is B12, and can be troublesome for many vegetarians. They can take steps to prevent deficiencies, but it takes substantial effort on their part. However, when you are just changing out one meal, you can be assured that your family’s nutrient requirements are all still being met.
The dedication and careful preparation of adopting a vegetarian lifestyle can be overwhelming. But, you do not have to go to those extremes to reap some of the benefits of consuming less meat. The frequency of once a week can help your family see the benefits of a vegetarian lifestyle, while not having to worry about the more difficult aspects associated with become a vegetarian.