Getting Started with Meatless Monday
Humane Society of the United States
January 2, 2024
Meatless Monday is a lifestyle that allows you to continue to eat the foods you love, while making your meals incrementally healthier and more sustainable. The concept is straightforward: “cut out the meat, one day a week.”
People who start their week with Meatless Monday tend to eat healthier all week long. Research shows that consuming less red and processed meat and more plant-based meat alternates can lower your risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, chronic kidney disease, type 2 diabetes, certain cancers, and obesity. Participating in Meatless Monday could also be a great way to introduce new foods to those in your care, while making it a little easier for you to accommodate those who already follow plant-based diets.
So, what’s the best way to get started with Meatless Monday? Our partners at the Humane Society of the United States compiled a list of information and resources to make it easier to prepare more plant-based meals. This is also a great resource to share with your families!
Know the Benefits
Participating in Meatless Monday comes with numerous health and environmental benefits, and, by knowing them, you’ll stay motivated to continue week after week. Eating less red and processed meat and more plant-based meat alternates can reduce your risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes, help maintain a healthy weight, and promote kidney health, while also reducing the production of greenhouse gasses that negatively impact climate change.
Set a Weekly Reminder
Consistency is key to maintaining healthy habits, and thanks to technology, there are a number of different ways to stay on track. The easiest option is setting a calendar reminder on in advance, so that you have extra time to prepare.
Stock Your Pantry
With the right staple ingredients, you can mix and match to create tons of different dishes, ranging from chickpea Marsala to lentil Bolognese to black bean burgers. Dried pastas, canned beans, dried lentils, vegetable stock, nuts, seeds, spices, grains, polenta, and sauces like tahini, soy sauce, and barbecue sauce are all excellent ingredients to have in stock.
Get Familiar with Plant-Based Proteins
There’s a myth that you can’t get enough protein from plants, but nutritional science disagrees! There are tons of different sources of plant-based proteins that are inexpensive, easy to use, and capable of standing in for animal products in a number of dishes. For more information on creditable plant-based meat alternates, watch our Meal Pattern Minute and read the Question and Answer on Alternative Protein Products.
Explore Different Plant-Based Recipes
Meatless Monday is an opportunity to step out of your culinary comfort zone and explore tasty new recipes. You’ll find yourself using ingredients that you may have overlooked or never even heard of before. To get those creative juices flowing, check out our recipes.
Make a Meal Plan
Planning out meals in advance will help you organize your supermarket shopping trips and reduce the stress of having to come up with a week’s worth of meals on the fly. And with a properly stocked pantry, you’ll be able to make a number of breakfasts, lunches, dinners, and snacks with limited ingredients. If you need some inspiration before getting started, check out our plant-forward cycle menu and Plant Powered Palates: Showcasing Plant-Forward CACFP Recipes and Menus webinar.
Focus on Familiar Foods
If you’re new to plant-based eating then just focus on the dishes you already know and the children love. You can recreate nearly every classic food—nuggets, mac and cheese, burgers, shepherd’s pie, meatloaf—using only plant-based ingredients.
Get Families Involved
Having families participate in Meatless Monday will help keep you committed and accountable. It also increases the healthy foods kids eat at home and benefit their parents’ health as well. This is a great opportunity to send recipes and resources out to parents.
For more information about getting started with meatless Monday and plant-based resources, check out the Humane Societies blog on How to Get Started with Meatless Monday.