Author: Paige Thompson
At this point, you’ve probably heard the term Meatless Mondays. Why has this idea become so popular? Where does the protein come from on a menu without any meat? What could the menu for a day without meat look like? Let’s take a minute to break it down and see what all the fuss is about!
Why has this idea become so popular?
First of all, Meatless Mondays can be a fun way to spice up your diet and try out some new recipes. Many ethnic cuisines consist of meals that are heavy in whole grains and vegetables, and it can be a fun new experience to try them out! It can also be an enjoyable way to try to recreate some of your favorite meals.
There’s a number of reasons that choosing meatless meals can be very beneficial. The first is that properly planned plant-based diets can have a lot of health benefits. (Keywords here: properly planned. Think: whole foods including whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and plant based proteins.) According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, plant-based eating patterns have been associated with improved health outcomes including lower levels of obesity, a reduced risk of heart disease, and lower blood pressure. The good news is that you don’t have to fully convert your diet to see these benefits as they can come from just trying this out one day per week!
Eating meatless can also be very cost effective. Protein options like black beans, lentils, and quinoa can be much more wallet-friendly than their meat-based counterparts. Pair them with some in-season or frozen vegetables, and voila! Happy wallet AND happy taste buds.
Where does the protein come from on a menu without any meat?
An average, a healthy adult needs approximately .8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight, or .36 grams per pound. So, for a 150 pound person, they would need ~54 grams per day. It is absolutely possible to get this much protein on a well planned meatless diet. Check out the high protein content of some of the foods you’re probably already eating!
- Eggs: 6 grams of protein in one egg
- Chickpeas: 7 grams of protein per 100 gram serving
- Lentils: 8-9 grams of protein per 100 gram serving
- Almonds: 3 grams for every 6 almonds
- Greek yogurt: 22 grams of protein in 1 cup Chobani Plain Greek Yogurt
- Broccoli, brussels sprouts, spinach: 2-3 grams of protein per 80 gram serving
What could the menu for a day without meat look like?
Breakfast: Overnight Oats
- Mix ½ cup rolled oats, ½ cup vanilla almond milk, 1 tsp. honey, and any other add-ins you might like, such as cinnamon, chia seeds, berries, or Greek yogurt, in a mason jar
- Refrigerate overnight
- Open in the morning and enjoy!
Lunch: Veggie Burger and Sweet Potato Fries
- Chop up 1-2 sweet potatoes into fry-size chunks
- Drizzle with olive oil, salt & pepper, and bake alongside your favorite brand of veggie burger in the oven at 350 degrees fahrenheit for 25-30 minutes (flipping the burger halfway through)
- Serve with a bun and some ketchup for dipping
Dinner: Crockpot Lentil Curry
- Mix 1½ cups dried brown lentils, 2 tablespoons ginger, 1 tablespoon each: cumin, coriander, turmeric, 1 28oz can of crushed tomatoes, 1 head of chopped garlic, 3 cups water, and ½ a finely minced onion into a crock pot
- Cook for 4 hours on high or 8 hours on low
- Stir in 1 15oz can of coconut milk, 2 teaspoons sea salt, 1 bunch chopped cilantro, and 1 pint cherry tomatoes
- Serve over rice
Remember, these recipes and ideas are just the beginning! It is easy to try things out on your own, too. For example, try a bean based chili recipe instead of making it with beef, or swap out the chicken in your next stir-fry for tofu. This also might be a good chance to try the vegetable sandwich at a local deli, or have avocado toast instead of a bacon and egg sandwich for breakfast. You might just be surprised at how delicious, filling, low-calorie (not to mention easy and cost-effective) meatless meals can be.