Learn why swapping in plant-based foods is good for your kids’ and family’s health and the planet!
Starting your week meatless is a healthy way to boost kids’ nutrition. Meatless Monday has a long history and is very popular throughout the world! Its’ no surprise considering that eating less meat is good for our bodies and the environment! Did you know that Meatless Monday has taken effect in over 40 countries from Israel to Bhutan to New Zealand? (1)
The History of Meatless Monday
So you may be wondering when and how did Meatless Monday begin? It actually dates back to World War I. To aid in the war effort, the U.S Food and Drug Administration decided it would be a good idea to have a day where no meat was consumed. This idea resurfaced in 2003 in order to raise awareness of the impact eating meat has on the health of our nation and on our environment. (1) If you are interested in attacking this meat-eating problem but are overwhelmed by the idea of completely eliminating meat, then meatless Mondays are for you!
So Why Mondays?
Though some people tend to dread Mondays, others see it as an opportunity for a new beginning! Research shows people are more likely to engage in healthy behaviors on Mondays than any other day and that when people participate in these behaviors on Monday they tend to continue with healthy behaviors throughout the week. (3) Just like when the New Year rolls around and everyone is eager to start fresh, Mondays can be viewed as a day for making small but positive healthy changes including eating a meatless dinner!
The average American will consume almost 10 oz of meat and poultry each day in 2018 as forecasted by the USDA. (4) The American Heart Association recommends no more than 6 oz. of meat per day and that includes lean sources as well. (8) Most Americans veer towards red, fatty and processed meats. Cutting down on meat in general from our family’s diets can have many positive health and environmental benefits. Here are four reasons less meat consumption can benefit you and/or the planet:
More room for plant-based food consumption
Meat consumption patterns have changed in past years causing Americans to consume unbalanced diets that are high in processed foods and refined sugars. If we eliminate some of the meat then there will be more room for increased consumption of fruits, vegetables, grains, beans, legumes and nuts leading to overall more balanced diets. Including more plant-based foods allows for a diet that is rich in fiber, vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients like plant compounds. These will all naturally benefit our health. Looking for tasty plant food ideas and activities? Check out our Healthy Kids Today, Prevent Cancer Tomorrow family resources.
Decreased risk of chronic and preventable diseases
Research shows that if we reduce the amount of meat in our diets, then we can decrease our chances of developing heart disease, diabetes, cancer and obesity Many American kids already have the beginning of atherosclerosis and precursors to heart disease. In a large study, it was found that vegetarians had 32 percent lower risk of developing coronary artery disease. (2)
A diet that contains a lower amount of animal products (Think: Mediterranean, Pescetarian and Vegetarian diet) was found to reduce the rate of developing cancer by 7 to 13 percent and diabetes by 16 to 41 percent. (6) People who ate a diet rich in foods from plant sources were found to have cut their risk of developing obesity by almost half compared to people who ate a diet rich in animal foods. (5) You don’t have to become a vegetarian to lower your risk of chronic disease, just eat more plant-based food! Check out these recipes for help:
Better carbon footprint= better environment
One of the leading contributors to the current environmental problems is animal agriculture. (7) If we eliminate meat from our diet on just one night a week, we can contribute to making a better overall carbon footprint, which can help to make positive strides for climate change, water depletion and soil erosion. Have fun with these planet-friendly learning activities with your kids!
It is no secret that meat costs more than many other available food products. Plant-based meals are often cheaper to prepare. The U.S. Department of Labor’s most recent analysis shows that one pound of beans was $1.34 versus spending 2.5 times more for $3.32/pound of chicken breast and 4.5 times more for $6.00/pound of sirloin steak! (1)
So we can do something good for our family’s bodies, the environment, and our bank accounts. Use these tips to start planning for Meatless Monday.