Have you considered having a Ďmeat-free nightí one day each week? Having 1 meatless dinner a week can have all kinds of benefits for you and your family. But how can cutting something OUT give you MORE? When you try a meatless night, youíll soon discover benefits like improved nutrition, lower fat, lower costs, and even improve the environment.
One day out of each week isnít much. You donít have to make drastic changes or stop eating the foods you love. With the abundance of delicious recipes, veggie-friendly restaurants, and even meat-free ready made meals available today, itís easy to find something meat-free to choose just one night of the week. This little change is so simple anyone can do it, and so important that everyone can make a difference.
How much difference can only 1 night each week make?
The climate expert, Rajendra Pachauri, says that livestock are responsible for 18% of the worldís greenhouse gas emissions. 18% might not seem like much, but scientists at the University of Chicago say that if everyone in the USA had ONE meat-free night each week, it would mean the energy equivalent of 12 billion fewer gallons of gasoline each year. Now THATís a lot saved! But what is it like on a more personal scale? For every 2.2 pounds of beef not consumedÖyou remove as much carbon dioxide from the air as NOT driving a car 155 miles.
Without all the land cleared for farming animal food, without all the fossil fuel spent on transporting animals and meat around, and without all the animal waste products harming the environment, you already know that cutting out a little meat is good for the planet. But what about you and your family? How can a meat-free night improve your health?
Plant based foods are naturally low fat, low (or free from!) cholesterol, high in vitamins, rich in minerals and full of healthy fiber. Fiber not only helps you to feel full faster, but aids in healthy digestion as well. Growth hormones & antibiotics arenít used on plants, and most can be cleaned quite well with a safe baking-soda wash. High fiber diets help lower the risk of colon cancer & diverticulitis. Many useful minerals such as iron, calcium and zinc (usually thought of in milk & meat) are also found in abundance in certain leaves, seeds and nuts. Chia seeds actually have more calcium by weight than milk, and spinach is rich in iron. Some of the longest-lived people on earth eat at least 7 servings of vegetables each day (while the USDA recommends only 5), and very little meat. Studies have repeatedly shown that a high-vegetable but low-meat diet is very beneficial. Notice it didnít mention cutting out ALL meat, just lowering it! Eating some meat is still good for you.
By going meat-free one night, you can save money. Meat has to be prepared, and thatís always going to require electricity, whether itís the stove, microwave or the oven. If youíre buying pre-cooked, pre-sliced meats, you can expect to pay more too. The more steps that go into preparing a product, the higher the price will be.
Now that you know the benefits of adding a meatless night to your schedule, what steps can you take to actually enjoy it?
There are plenty of recipes where you wonít "miss the meat" that donít require tofu or other meat-substitutes. If youíre worried about not feeling full or not getting enough complete protein from the meal, why not add beans or chia seeds to it? These seeds have complete protein just like meat, but they have no flavor of their own. You can add them to almost anything without changing the taste, and you canít "not like them" because there is no flavor to dislike. Chia also has calcium, iron, magnesium, and healthy omega-3 oil (that is usually found in fish). When chia seeds encounter liquid, such as water or juice, they form a gel. This allows them to absorb 9 times their weight in water which helps you to feel full.
Since itís only one night each week, experimentation is easy. The internet has made it faster than ever to locate recipes to try. There are many tasty dishes to try with beans. Beans contain a plant protein, fiber, and trace minerals. Many beans are also rich in anti-oxidants (the darker the bean, the more anti-oxidants it is likely to provide) Their two kinds of fiber aid with digestion and help fill you up, so itís totally possible to have a Ďhearty mealí that contains no meat.
Itís up to you to have the fun of discovering great meat-free recipes. Recipes of all types are so easy to find with a simple search, and you never know what you might discover. Maybe youíll even find your familyís new Ďfavorite mealí!