When I moved in with my boyfriend, I noticed I started eating a lot more meat. According to him, a meal wasn’t complete without some kind of animal. Soup was merely an entrée and eggs belonged only at breakfast. As the daughter of vegetarian parents, it was a bit of a shock to the system.
But over time—and with the assistance of some delicious falafels—I’ve managed to change his ways. I’m not saying we don’t eat meat; I love a steak as much as the next person, but we don’t need it, and certainly not every day. Not only has this reduced our grocery bill but also, it’s minimised our carbon footprint and may have even prolonged our life. Unlike other diets that only benefit your health, lowering your meat intake has a whole range of pros—for your wallet, your waistline and the world. Here’s some you might not have thought of.
Have you ever hosted a dinner party where the guests brought more food intolerances than they did wine? It’s not easy coming up with a menu but restrictions make you think outside the box and cook with ingredients you’re less familiar with. Use Monday as a day to experiment with different flavours (like these health-boosting spices), find a new recipe and hero a vegetable (like this miso eggplant) for a change. You’ll improve your culinary skills and broaden your taste buds.
Want a prime cut of Wagyu steak? It’s going to cost you. Compared to vegetables per kilogram, meat is seriously expensive, particularly if you buy organic, grass-fed animal products as you should. In fact, vegetarian meals can be even cheaper than fast food, especially if you buy in-season, which will taste better too. Seriously, test it out for yourself. Spend a week vegetarian and then spend your meat money on these must-have fashion pieces.
Meat-heavy diets have been linked to a number of health concerns. A few years ago, the World Health Organisation published a report that classified processed meat—like bacon, prosciutto and sausages—and red meat as carcinogens. Reducing your intake even one day per week will significantly reduce your risk of cancer—in particular, colon cancer—as well as heart disease. Studies have shown that vegetarians have a 20-25% lower chance of suffering from cardiac events or dying from cardiac causes. Whether you go full vego or not, reducing your intake can help.
A person who follows a vegan diet produces the equivalent of 50% less carbon dioxide, uses 1/11th oil, 1/13th water, and 1/18th land compared to a meat-lover for their food. Giving up meat for just one day scales back your resource consumption significantly.
When you hear that more than 6 million animals are killed for food every hour, it’s not hard to get on board with this one. The life cycle of animals bred for human consumption can be pretty grim so joining the Meatless Monday initiative is a conscious decision to be more humane.
Cooking meat well is actually rather challenging. It’s a lot harder to stuff up a slow-baked sweet potato than a prime cut of rib eye which can be ruined in under 30 seconds. There’s also a much smaller chance of poisoning your guests with raw vegetables than raw chicken.
If reducing your meat intake means upping your consumption of a diverse range of vegetables—which it does unless you plan on starving—then it could do wonders for your health. According to the Aggregate Nutrient-Density Index, the most nutrient-rich foods are all vegetables. On the chart, raw leafy greens scored 100 while the highest-rated animal product, fish, scored only 15 and red meat scored only eight. Of course, this is just one test but no one can deny that eating more vegetables isn’t good for your health. Plus, vegetables are full of fibre which can be good for your digestion and waistline, too.
Now that we’ve convinced you to go meat-free every Monday, here are some recipes to get you started.