I am sure you have heard the team “Meatless Monday.” at some point over the years. The idea of Meatless Monday has a long history, and more importantly, one that is worth discussing and understanding. This is not just a fad or some fun way to eat but it is a large movement that has become popular all over the world.
In this blog, I will share with you a brief history of the concept of Meatless Monday and seven ways to start Meatless Monday that will help you successfully implement this habit.
Where did Meatless Monday come from?
The idea of Meatless Monday has a great history that I have recently learned about. I thought it was a great concept thought up by a vegan, or vegetarian, health or animal advocate to promote a program. As I was researching this topic I came across the Meatless Monday website and learned more about how this movement started.
In World War I, the U.S. Food Administration urged people to reduce the consumption of staple foods, like meat and wheat, to save resources. Food was scarce in those times so more than 13 million families (10-12% of population) signed the pledge to give up meat and wheat once a week.
In World War II, this concept was re-introduced by President Roosevelt. He suggested that if people would agree to give up these staple foods and eat more veggies and other grains, like corn, they would be able to save more rations for the troops.
In 2003, Sid Lerner, who was associated with the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health’s Centre For A Liveable Future, reintroduced this concept as a public health awareness campaign. This campaign for reducing meat consumption once a week addresses the prevalence of preventable illnesses associated with excessive meat consumption. Studies show the average American eats 75 pounds of meat per year more than previous generations and is causing a variety of health problems.
Although Meatless Monday rhymes really well, research shows that Monday is the day many people choose to start making a new behaviour change, like eating better or going to the gym, and is shown to be the perfect day to make small, positive changes.
There are many great reasons to implant Meatless Monday into our life some of which include:
- Your health
- The animals
- The planet
- The sheer enjoyment
- To join a huge global movement
Seven Meatless Monday Tips
In this section, I will review seven things you can do now to successfully implement a Meatless Monday habit in your life. First I’d like to congratulate you for even considering this idea and if you have already started … good for you! You are well on your way to a life of Living Meatless, compassion and greater well-being.
Here are seven ways to successfully implement Meatless Monday:
1) Make “meaty” dishes. One of the first things people miss when starting to cut out meat is meat! I know, silly right? Of course meat is something that many people crave due to the high fat and salt of the flesh. They also worry that plant-based food won’t taste as good. I am here to tell you that if you have any doubt that this food won’t taste as good as your favourite meat dish get ready to have your mind blown. There are so many delicious recipes that do not contain any meat and yet you would hardly know the difference.
Many years back when I started teaching vegan cooking classes I had a gentleman come into my class who was obviously dragged there against his will by his wife. He sat almost the entire time with his arms crossed. As we ate the food his body language began to change and he seemed much more open to the food. After class he came to me and said, “I did not want to come tonight because I didn’t know what to expect with this vegan food but I have to say that was some of the tastiest food I had ever eaten. Can you please show my wife how to cook like that all the time?”
It was wonderful to hear this! It’s so much fun when people realize how good the food is, want to learn about and make more of it.
A great way to start with Meatless Monday recipes is to make meals that remind you of meat dishes. One of my favourites, and a staple in my home, is the Roasted Cauliflower With Rosemary Gravy. This recipe has a “roast” feel to it and the rosemary gravy is divine!
Back when I first went vegan there were not many decent-tasting meat substitutes but now there are many amazing meat-less options. These prepared foods will give you the sensation of eating meat without all the fat, salt and bad karma that comes with eating meat.
Some of my favourite meatless brands include:
- Gardein: I LOVE this company. Their food is simple and delicious and they have a variety of delicious recipes on their site.
- Tofurkey: This company makes a vegan sausage you can eat cut up in a scramble or pasta sauce and a turkey-like roast that is perfect for any meatless holiday meal.
- Yves: If you love eating vegan junk food once in awhile Yves will hook you up with their delicious corn dogs and hot dogs. They also also have other great healthy choices such as the Veggie Taco Stuffers that is perfect for Taco Tuesday!
- Beyond Meat: This company is taking the fast-food world to another level. Their Beyond Burger is now at A & W and is now selling better than the famous Teen Burger, so A & W staff have said. The first time I had this burger it was so real I couldn’t eat it and it made my stomach turn as it reminded me of animal flesh. However, after learning about how the company makes the burger and the attention that goes in to making the burger, and their other products, it is now a favourite meal and one I can get at the A & W drive through.
2) Upgrade your favourite comfort foods. Just because you choose to eat meatless does not mean you have to give up your comfort foods. If anything, you will just make them better! What kind of food do you reach for when you want to feel some love? Sweet? Salty? Savoury? Crunchy? Chewy? All of these cravings can be satisfied by using plant-based ingredients that will bring you an abundance of joy, love and comfort.
If you have a sweet tooth you will love these recipes:
- Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies
- Chocolate Macaroons
- Raw Mocha Cheesecake
- Almond Energy Balls
- Any dairy free ice cream such as So Delicious and Coconut Bliss.
If you crave cheesy, salty and crunchy snacks make these recipes:
If you crave something savoury try these mouth watering recipes:
3) Start the day off right! Health experts often say that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Whether it is or not you can still start your day off with some delicious recipes that you can sit and enjoy with the family or grab and go on your way out the door to work.
Easy to make grab and go breakfast recipes:
Do you have more time to sit and enjoy your breakfast? Make these simple breakfast recipes:
4) Get the entire family involved. Often parents struggle to get their kids on board with eating more fruits and veggies, especially when they haven’t been exposed to much of these types of food since they were born. However, more and more kids are choosing to go vegan even when their parents are not, or don’t agree with the choice. Kids are very intuitive and many can’t wrap their heads around the fact that we eat animals for food. Have you seen a child’s face and reaction when they realize what the meat they are eating really is? They often just don’t understand why it’s ok to eat a chicken, cow, or pig and not eat the dog or cat. They are smart little suckers aren’t they?
If you have a child that’s just not too sure about eating broccoli that looks like little green trees, or Brussels’ sprouts that look like little brains, or a muddy looking “health” smoothie that mommy drinks just because she feels it is healthy then the best thing you can do is hide fruits and veggies in their food.
Here are some ideas:
- Make smoothies – You can make smoothies fast absolutely delicious by adding a variety of healthy ingredients. One of my nieces favourites is the Banana Split Smoothie.
- Feed your kids fruit and veggie gummies. Many of my clients choose to feed their kids fruit and veggie gummies. These give them the opportunity to fill their little bodies with good nutrients from fruits, veggies and berries while the kids think they are eating candy. It’s the perfect solution! Let’s face it…even adults love these. These gummies are one of my own personal favourite daily snacks!
Kids love to be involved in preparing food and they have no fear when it comes to getting their hands dirty…well most of the time. Invite your kids into the kitchen with you and share the wonderful process of making a delicious meal together. It is not only a great time to bond but it’s fun too! I lived with my nieces for a short while, when they were little, and I loved to have them in the kitchen making meals, such as tacos, salads, and desserts, with me. Tear the kids away from they iPads, get them in the kitchen and make your favourite meals and snacks together.
5) Indulge in dessert. Yes, you can eat delicious dessert that does not contain any cream, milk or butter. Trust me, dessert is absolutely divine when made with plant-based ingredients and is just as easy to make. I already mentioned some sweet treats above but here are some more decadent recipes:
Make your own:
If you don’t feel like making your own you can find many delicious treats from local small businesses or in your grocery store.
A couple of my favourite are:
6) Eat out at a new restaurant. Eating out is a wonderful way to expose yourself to new plant-based foods for Meatless Monday. Check Happy Cow, Google or your local directory for vegan, or vegan friendly, restaurants near you.
Some of my favourite vegan, or vegan friendly, restaurants include:
- The Dandelion Cafe – Calgary, Alberta, Canada
- Veg-In YYC – Calgary, Alberta, Canada
- Copper Branch – Montreal, Quebec, Calgary, Alberta, and other global locations
- The Coup – Calgary, Alberta
- Heart Choices Thai Vegan Cafe – Calgary, Alberta and Thailand
- Noorish – Edmonton Alberta, Canada
- Cafe Mosaics – Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
- Nourish Bistro – Banff, Alberta, Canada
- Buddha-Full – North Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
- Meet – Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
- The Nam – Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
- Crossroads Kitchen – Los Angeles, California, USA
- Veggie Grill – Los Angeles, California, USA
7) Do something that supports a compassionate vegan lifestyle. By committing to Meatless Monday this is the first step to showing more compassion to yourself, the animals and the planet. Rather than just solely focusing on food why not do an activity that will help you explore a more compassionate vegan lifestyle… because after all, vegan is an way of life not a diet.
A wonderful option is to visit a local animal sanctuary or rescue centre in your area. Do a Google search to find organizations in your area, book a tour and support their endeavours.
A few options in the Calgary, Alberta Canada area include:
There you have it … seven ways to successfully implement Meatless Monday! It is not as hard as you think. The only thing you must do to make it a great success is to commit to it! Just decide to make it happen and you will.
Did you know studies show that animal consumption has a significant negative impact on the environment, such as the production of greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming? Even more of an impact than the emissions from the cars we drive. The World Health Organization has deemed red and processed meat as a carcinogenic, cancer causing agent. Let alone the pain and suffering millions of animals go through as a result of consumption, use and exploitation of of these living souls.
You may think that choosing to embrace Meatless Monday’s isn’t a big deal but you have more of a positive impact by making this small change than you know. Keep going with it, have some fun and start to educate yourself on the positive impact Living MeatLess will have on your life.
For more information on Living Meatless and making your Meatless Monday a greater success please check out these blogs:
I would love to hear about your experience and success with Meatless Monday. Leave a comment, share recipes you make with us here or on our Facebook page, what restaurant you ate at or ask questions about how you can make Living Meatless a bigger part of your life.
Until next time,
Rachel Joy Olsen, BSc., MBA
Author, Health & Wellness Coach, Vegan