Make a big change to your diet and reduce your carbon footprint by going meatless on Monday. It sounds like much more of a challenge than it is; once you weigh the benefits, you’ll be excited to join the movement. Below you’ll find some great reasons why you should be going meatless plus some recipes you’ll be excited to try out.
Meatless Monday has some great health benefits. Red and processed meats are associated with colon cancer while eating fruits and vegetables can reduce the cancer risk. A study by Harvard University found that diets high in polyunsaturated fats, such as vegetable oils, nuts and seeds, reduce the risk of heart disease by 19%. Apart from reducing heart disease and cancer, reducing your meat intake helps curb obesity, increases mortality leaving you to walk around our Earth longer and improves your overall diet.
Apart from the awesome health benefits of meatless Monday, don’t forget about the earth friendly benefits. Reduce your overall carbon footprint by cutting out all meat for one day a week. MeatlessMonday.com [A1] quotes, “The United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization estimates the meat industry generates nearly one-fifth of the man-made greenhouse gas emissions that are accelerating climate change worldwide”. This is more than transportation while the world’s demand for meat just continues to grow. Going meatless on Monday lessons demand on water. Think of livestock’s demand for water. To create a single pound of beef it takes over 2,000 gallons of water but only 220 gallons to produce a single pound of Soy tofu. That is a pretty crazy fact and means that by cutting out meat one day a week you could be saving water, energy and fossil fuels. The infographic below shows the animal product from farm to your plate and just how much they rely on our fossil fuels, water and energy.
Going meat free one day a week does not mean you’re eating grass and rice cakes for supper. There are so many great alternative options and in many countries populations frequently go meat free. India, Japan, South Korea and others have many going through their day to day activities without meat but still making amazing and delicious cuisine that would have the biggest meat eaters dishing for more. Below are two great recipes of some traditional western cuisine with a Meatless Monday twist.
Veggie Lentil Burgers
Ingredients of Burger
1½ cups cooked lentils, or if in a pinch, from the can
6 cups low sodium vegetable stock
4 garlic cloves, smashed
1 red chili, diced
¼ red onion, diced
5 sprigs fresh thyme, roughly chopped
2 slices of wholegrain bread, roughly diced
salt and pepper, to taste
2 eggs, lightly whisked
1-2 tablespoons wholegrain flour
Your favorite burger bun, Ciabatta bread perhaps
1 avocado, cut into slices
Ketchup, mustard or relish, try some pesto
Your favorite cheesy choice, Cheddar, Feta or American are all great choices
To make the lentil burger patties:
Combine the chili, red onion, thyme and breadcrumbs in a large bowl. Add the lentils and stir to mix. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Add the whisked eggs to the burger mixture. Stir until thoroughly combined, adding enough flour to bring the mixture together.
Form the mixture into large patties with your hands.
To complete the lentil burgers:
Prepare a large frying pan with a light coating of vegetable oil or cooking spray.
Cook the lentil burger patties on the prepared pan for 4-5 minutes, flip and cook for another 4-5 minutes on the other side, or until both sides are golden and cooked through.
If using cheese, top the cooked burger patty with 1 slice of cheese and place under a medium grill or broiler for 2-3 minutes, or until the cheese has melted.
Build your burger by spreading the bun with your chosen topping, add your burger then layer on the toppings. Close the burger with the top bun and repeat the process with the remaining burgers.
Recipe serves about 8 people.
Paleo Eggplant Lasagna
1 large globe eggplant, cut lengthwise into 8 1/4-inch slices
1 lb Morningstar Beef Crumbles or any alternative to ground beef, perhaps try lentils
1 medium onion, diced
10 oz whole baby bella mushrooms, sliced
4 to 6 cloves of garlic, minced
2 15 oz cans of diced tomatoes (undrained)
6 oz can of tomato paste
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 cup fresh parsley (plus more for garnish)
Preheat oven to 375 F. Spray two baking sheets with nonstick spray or line with parchment paper. Set aside.
Place eggplant pieces on prepared baking sheets in single layer. Brush both sides of eggplant slices with olive oil. Bake until eggplant slices are tender and beginning to brown, about 5 minutes per side. Watch closely and remove eggplant slices as needed if they are cooking too quickly or not long enough. Remove baking sheets from oven and cool eggplant while preparing sauce. Eggplant can be roasted 1 day ahead and refrigerated.
In a large sauce pan or pot, add olive oil to a medium heat then add onion, garlic, and mushrooms. Stirring frequently, brown and cook until onions and mushrooms are tender, about 5 to 10 minutes. Add in your ground beef alternative and heat all the way through. Add 2 cans of diced tomatoes with juice, tomato paste, oregano, basil, salt, pepper, and parsley. Bring to a simmer. Allow to simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Sauce can be made several days ahead and refrigerated.
Spread 1/3 of the ‘meat’ sauce (about 2 cups) in the bottom of a 9″ X 13″ glass pan. Layer 4 slices of eggplant on top of the sauce. Spread another 1 to 2 cups of sauce on top of the eggplant slices. Arrange a second layer of eggplant slices directly on top of the first layer, stacking them. Spoon remaining sauce on top. This can be made 1 day ahead. Cover with foil and refrigerate until ready to cook.
Bake eggplant lasagna until heated through, about 20 to 30 minutes if freshly made or 40 minutes if refrigerated. Serve hot topped with fresh parsley or basil.
Recipe serves about 8 people.
Nutritional Information per serving: 209 calories, 15 g carbohydrates, 11 grams fat, 15 grams protein
Tofu & Green Bean Stir-Fry
1/2 cup water, divided
1/4 cup reduced-sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons sugar
1/4-1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper, or to taste
1 teaspoon plus 2 tablespoons cornstarch, divided
1 14-ounce package extra-firm tofu, drained
2 tablespoons canola oil, divided
4 cups green beans, trimmed and cut in half
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger
Whisk 1/4 cup water, soy sauce, tomato paste, vinegar, sugar, crushed red pepper to taste and 1 teaspoon cornstarch in a small bowl. Set aside. Cut tofu into 1/2- to 3/4-inch cubes and pat dry. Toss the tofu in a bowl with the remaining 2 tablespoons cornstarch to coat.
Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a wok or large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the tofu and spread out across the surface of the pan. Let cook undisturbed for 2 minutes. Gently turn and stir. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned and crispy, 2 to 3 minutes more. Transfer to a plate.
Reduce heat to medium. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil to the pan. Add green beans, garlic and ginger; cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute. Add the remaining 1/4 cup water, cover and cook until the beans are crisp-tender, 2 to 4 minutes. Stir the reserved soy sauce mixture and pour it over the green beans. Cook, stirring, until thickened, about 1 minute. Add the tofu and cook, stirring, until heated through, about 1 minute more.
Nutritional Information per serving: 218 calories; 11 g fat ( 1 g sat , 6 g mono ); 0 mg cholesterol; 20 g carbohydrates; 2 g added sugars; 12 g protein; 5 g fiber; 672 mg sodium; 364 mg potassium.
Recipe serves about 8 people.