If you've ever seen the hashtag #MeatlessMonday, you've probably jumped to the right conclusion about what the term means. People give up meat for one day a week to improve their healthy and the health of the planet. There are countless Pinterest boards devoted to the subject and even a number of books. The routine actually developed during World War I, when Woodrow Wilson called for Americans to reduce consumption to help the war effort, but it was revived as a public health awareness program in the States in 2003, and since has become a global phenomenon. In 2009, Paul McCartney and his daughters even launched their own Meat Free Mondays campaign. Needless to say, it has taken off, but why?
To learn more about its benefits, we asked Scandal star Darby Stanchfield, who plays Abby Whelan on the ABC series and is a champion of #MeatlessMondays, to share with us why she loves to participate. Read below for her top five reasons.
- It's good for the planet! Skipping meat for one day a week can reduce your annual carbon footprint by as much as not driving your car for a whole month. In the production of food, the carbon footprint of beans, grains, and veggies is significantly lower than that of meat, therefore your choice of what you consume helps lower your individual carbon footprint. For example, producing one pound of beef uses as much energy as 256 100-watt lightbulbs per year.
- It's good for YOU! There are endless studies that say diets full of unprocessed, natural, whole foods make healthier people. One reason is that fats from meatless sources such as avocados, coconuts, and other nuts and seeds are much easier to digest and can actually be fat-burning. Meanwhile, fat from animals aren't as easily digestible, or healthy for you.
- It's good for your pocketbook. Across the boards, meatless dishes cost less than meat dishes. A bag of lentils costs approximately 70 cents. Combine that with a couple of handfuls of organic veggies and herbs and spices, and you have a pot of lentil stew for the week! If you want to incorporate "super foods" and explore fun herbs, spices, nuts, and seeds that are more expensive, you can go to a website like Thrive Market that sells those items at wholesale prices. That way you can expand and explore your Meatless Monday menu options but stay within your budget.
- It's a great motivator for creating healthier habits. When committing to Meatless Mondays, it automatically sets a schedule for you to eat healthier once a week. It's on a Monday, and if embraced to the fullest, you might find yourself prepping food on a Sunday for that Monday. If you have leftovers, you might eat healthier not just on Monday, but another day or two. As you try more meatless dishes, and explore eating more vegetables than you did before, your tastes might change, you may feel better, and you may continue to evolve these healthier habits overall in your diet.
- It can be an educational and creative platform, as well as a communal opportunity for you. You can use Meatless Mondays as a way to learn how to cook, even if it's as simple as learning to make a salad dressing from scratch, or learning to use a wok for a veggie stir fry. Cooking and assembling meals yourself, and for your family, can introduce you to new recipes, healthier habits, and maybe a new delicious vegetable or grain. You can share your Meatless Monday dishes with co-workers and friends, which is sharing the Meatless Monday movement with your community, helping create a better planet and better habits for everyone.
Do you participate in Meatless Monday, or do you have a vegan diet? Share your favorite dishes below.