The times have changed when it comes to meat consumption, according to Renelle Briand of Health Canada. “Many of us grew up in households where meat took center stage on the dinner plate. Today, there is a greater emphasis on meat alternatives, vegetables, fruit and whole grain foods,” she says.
Last week, University of Waterloo’s school of public health became the first in Canada to endorse Meatless Mondays—and if a major university in Canada can do it, so can you.
Here’s why cutting back on meat is beneficial for your health:
1. Reduce saturated fat intake
The most recent Canada’s Food Guide suggests that people choose more beans, lentils, and tofu among other meat alternatives as a way to minimize saturated fat. “Though some saturated fat in our diet shouldn't be harmful, if you're eating a lot of it, that may negatively affect your health,” says dietitian Abby Langer. Since the majority of saturated fat comes from animals and animal by-products, cutting out meat is an easy way to decrease your saturated fat intake.
2. Curb the risk of cancer
“Processed meats such as lunch meats and bacon have been connected to an increased risk of some cancers,” says Langer. In 2015, The International Agency for Research on Cancer classified processed meat as carcinogen, and red meat as a probable carcinogen. To reduce your risk, limit your intake of both.
3. Improve heart health
Meat alternatives provide nutrients such as iron, zinc, magnesium, B vitamins, and protein. “While nuts and seeds are meat alternatives that can be high in calories, they contain monounsaturated fat and polyunsaturated fats, which are beneficial for cardiovascular health,” says Briand.
The best part about Meatless Mondays is that it’s so simple! Here are five veggie-friendly recipes to get you started.
- Tofu noodle stir-fry
- Vegetarian shepherd pie
- Mega veggie burgers
- Grilled black bean tostadas
- Turnip and kohlrabi slaw