Meatless Mondays date back to the First World War. During that time, US citizens were encouraged to participate in Meatless Mondays and Wheatless Wednesdays in an attempt to provide food for US soldiers and its allies. The war-time campaign came back during World War II, when meat rations were given to US citizens during the war to, again, preserve food for the troops. Meatless Mondays made a comeback in 2003 with a new, health-oriented goal.
Meatless Mondays became an international effort to consume less meat per week to improve personal health, and also to improve the health of the environment. Research began to show that the consumption of meat and other animal products may increase the risk of certain diseases and cancers. The heavy environmental burden of mass-producing meat further promoted the role of Meatless Monday, while encouraging participants to buy from local farms and butchers for the rest of their weekly meals.
Protein serves as a building block for many of the body’s functions. Dietary sources of protein offer vitamins, minerals, fatty acids and essential amino acids; all are necessary for the body’s cells to function efficiently. Protein is often associated with animal products, and while animal products are sources of protein, there are many other foods that contain protein without the potentially carcinogenic (cancer-causing) compounds found in cooked meat and poultry, particularly when fried and grilled. Some examples of sources of plant-based protein includes: beans, peas, legumes, nuts, seeds, whole grains, fortified grains, some vegetables, and dairy-free milks such as almond or soy milk. According to NutritionFacts.org, Dr. Greger, M.D reviewed research that suggested, “Meat eaters appear to be at a higher risk for certain cancers.” On a related topic, Dr. Greger discussed the antioxidant content of meat versus plant-based foods, and he highlighted that plant-based protein sources have much more antioxidant content than animal sources.
Whether your goal is to improve your health, to support your local businesses, or just to consume less meat, participating in Meatless Monday doesn’t have to be a challenge! While there are many non-animal products that offer a good source of protein, there are also many online support groups that offer tips, educational materials, social networking, and meatless recipes to help you stay meatless on Mondays. ChooseMyPlate.org is a great resource that offers information such as recommendations for dietary protein needs, and which foods are good sources of protein. It is important to note that all protein sources do not offer all of the ten essential amino acids that the body cannot make, and must be provided by food. A complete protein is a food product that offers all of the ten essential amino acids. Many animal products, for instance beef, fish, and milk, are sources of complete protein. Plant-based protein sources usually do not contain all ten essential amino acids, but some combinations of plant-based proteins work together to deliver all ten amino acids. Some examples of these combinations are: beans and rice, peanut butter on whole wheat bread, macaroni and cheese, yogurt with sesame and flax seeds, and hummus with whole-grain pita bread. Take a look at the recipe below for Black Bean Burgers; it’s meatless, and the bean and whole wheat ingredients make this burger a good source of protein.
- 1 (15 ounce) can no-salt-added black beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 egg
- 1/2 yellow onion, chopped
- 1 cup whole wheat bread crumbs
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder or granules
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Hot sauce to taste
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive or canola oil
- 6 whole wheat hamburger buns
- 6 green leaf lettuce leaves
- 2 tomatoes, sliced
- 1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
- Put beans in a large bowl and mash well with a fork. Add egg, yellow onion, bread crumbs, oregano, basil, garlic powder, salt, pepper and hot sauce. Mix well to combine then shape into 6 patties.
- Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Arrange patties in a single layer (working in batches, if needed) and cook, flipping once, until golden brown on both sides and cooked through, about 10 minutes total. Transfer to buns, top with lettuce, tomatoes and red onions and serve.
This recipe is dairy free, suitable for vegetarians, and offers high-fiber content. Wheat free burger recipes are also available. This information, and much more, can be found by clicking the links below.
Dietary Protein Recommendations: http://www.choosemyplate.gov/food-groups/protein-foods.html
Homemade Black Bean Burger Recipe by Whole Foods Market: http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/recipe/homemade-black-bean-burgers
Complete and Complementary Proteins: http://www.cdc.gov/nutrition/everyone/basics/protein.html
Meat by Dr. Greger, M.D.: http://nutritionfacts.org/topics/meat/
Antioxidant Content of 3,139 foods: http://nutritionfacts.org/video/antioxidant-content-of-3139-foods/
History of Meatless Monday: http://www.meatlessmonday.com/history/
Examples of Complete and Complementary Protein Sources:
Meatless Monday Social Networking*:
*These sites require membership for full access to posted material.
About the author
Christine Luby is a junior in the Nutrition and Food Science program at Drexel University. Before transferring to Drexel, she graduated from Bucks County Community College with an Associates degree in Culinary Arts: Pastry Emphasis. She will graduate with a Bachelor of Science degree in the summer of 2014. After graduation, she plans to work on a Masters degree in Education, while completing a dietetic internship. She is interested in food science, food service, and nutrition education, and would like to implement nutrition education classes in a local school district. She hopes to combine her knowledge in nutrition, culinary art, food science, and education to develop a school program that teaches nutrition fundamentals inside the classroom and prepares students to make healthy choices in school and at home.