Sometimes I wish I was a vegan. Unfortunately, my carnivorous culture, steak-loving husband, and voracious taste buds won't permit me to fully forgo meat products. In honor of my meatless dreams, I've made the personal choice to simply eat less meat. As someone who's constantly struggled with weight, I often resort to a not-so-healthy high-protein, low carb diet filled with a lot of meat to shed unwanted pounds. After years of yo-yoing, I've decided to try a new diet plan focused simply and purely on being balanced and healthy. In my research on the keystones of a nutritious diet, I've noticed one common theme: less meat equals more health.
Meatless Monday is a national movement endorsed by everyone from Oprah Winfrey to Ellen Degeneres encouraging Americans to kick-start their weeks by going vegetarian. The initiative is led by the non-profit organization The Monday Campaign in partner with Johns Hopkins’ Bloomberg School of Public Health. Their claim: "By cutting out meat once a week, we can improve our health, reduce our carbon footprint, and lead the world in the race to reduce climate change."
Why, you ask, should I go meatless?
According to meatlessmonday.com, the benefits of cutting down your meat intake are plentiful, and pretty darn astounding:
Cancer Reduction: There has been a tremendous amount of research that indicates that those who eat a diet high in fruits and veggies are at less risk for developing cancer. Similarly, high-level consumption of red meat and processed meat have been linked to cases of colon cancer.
Sayonara Diabetes: Studies show that the more red and processed meat you consume, the greater your risk is for developing type 2 diabetes.
Weigh Less: Those who eat less meat have lower BMIs and a lower overall weight than those who don't.
Live Longer: Studies have proven that higher levels of meat intake are associated with an increase in overall mortality.
For many of us Americans who think "meat first" when planning our meals, here are a few easy switches:
Salads: Instead of opting for steak or chicken in your salad, choose tofu or tempeh. Instead of topping it with bacon bits, opt for nuts and seeds.