Tips to Help You Achieve a Meatless Monday

Is your meat consuming you rather than you consuming it? Reports by the Academy of Pediatrics, World Cancer Research Fund and World Health Organization all point to the need to be more careful with meat consumption.

The IARC (World Health Organization International Agency for Research on Cancer) has reported processed meats (hot dogs, ham, sausages, corned beef, and beef jerky) are considered “carcinogenic to humans” and red meat (beef, veal, pork, lamb, mutton, horse, and goat) are “probably carcinogenic to humans.” With that said, why not try taking a day off from meat?

Why lose the meat on Monday?
meatless_logo_high_res copyAmericans are consuming 45% more meat on a daily basis than recommended by the USDA. Going meatless can reduce the risk of chronic preventable conditions like heart disease, diabetes, obesity, cancer and help with other chronic conditions.

The Meatless Monday campaign, started by a joint initiative between Syracuse, Johns Hopkins, and Columbia Universities offers free recipes on Mondays to help with this. Balance & Disease blog will also be offering occasional suggestions for meal plans.

Not only is overconsumption of meat leading to unwanted health conditions, but it could be dangerous to children as well. The American Academy of Pediatrics released a report stating the nontherapeutic use of antibiotics to treat animals is leading to bacterial resistance in children and is altering the way the medical field can treat sick children.

The World Cancer Research Fund International recommends less than 11-18 oz. of red meat a week, and little to no processed meats at all. This is recommended because of the increased risk of colorectal cancer from red and processed meats.

processed meatsBenefits of Less Meat
Not only is your health going to benefit from decreased consumption of meat, but your wallet also. Meat is one of the more expensive food items when you shop, cutting meat back will save you a few bucks.

Red meats specifically contain higher fat, and cholesterol levels, which if over-consumed can lead to a higher risk of heart disease. As with any food that is over-consumed, obesity and weight issues can follow, which can lead to increased risk of Type 2 Diabetes.

Reducing meat helps create a healthier diet, but you still need to remember to eat healthy fresh vegetables and fruits, as well as other macronutrients from fresh foods.

What to eat instead of meat?
Substituting beans for meat in a meal creates a more filling meal and provides decent levels of protein and fiber. Eggs are also great additions to meals or even a breakfast for dinner day. Adding fresh vegetables and herbs and spices creates a deliciously filling meal.

What are some of the meatless meals we love?
Do you often find recipes online from other blogs and love them? We even add in our own little touches to the recipe. Additions are spices or vegetables we love in our meals (like garlic), and if not called for we often add them. Below is a list of some of our favorites, and there are enough for you to do meatless Monday for one month. All you need to do is click the link, print or pin, and cook it up.

Slow Cooker Tortilla Soup – Use some added light sour cream, shredded cheese on top for a more taco-like meal.
Kale and Quinoa Minestrone
Mexican Zucchini Burrito Boats
Creamy Pasta with Broccoli and Chick Peas
BONUS in case you want to start today! Olive Garden Copycat Minestrone Soup (Slow Cooker)
** Looking for more – check out the Meatless Monday recommendations.

Tips to keep it even healthier:
Use non-fat creamer instead of heavy cream.
Use skim milk rather than whole milk.
Use low or no sodium broth.
Use fresh tomatoes instead of canned diced.
Use fresh or frozen vegetables (if out of season) versus canned.
Use low fat or nonfat sour creams or cheeses.

What meat to eat if you still want some meat other days of the week?redmeat
The American Heart Association recommends eating fish, chicken, and beans in place of red meats. Skinless chicken and fish should be consumed in no more than 6 ounces a day, and only 2 days a week. Fish high in omega 3 are the best for your body and heart health, those include salmon or trout.

But if you still want to eat some red meats there are better ways to choose your meat. Here are some tips:
* Choose organically certified meat.
– The farm is not allowed to use antibiotics or added hormones or GMO feed on their animals.

* Select grass fed meats. 
– The AGA certifies this group of meats to be sure that these animals only got grass and forage from weaning to processing.

* Buy directly from local farmers. 
– Ask about or observe their animals and know what and how they were treated and fed.

Are you up for a challenge? Want to do something good for your gut, and your health? Try meatless Monday. It’s only one day a week (which is a start!). Our family has gone to 5 days a week meatless! Meatless Monday can be easy!

Tell me about your ideas and success here!