“Meatless Monday” was started during World War 1, along with “Wheatless Wednesday”, to help save meat and other food rations for soldiers during the war. It was reinvented in 2003 as a “public health awareness program in association with Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health’s Center for a Livable Future.” Today, the idea of Meatless Monday is to increase the amount of plant based foods in the American diet, while lessening the human impact on the environment. Studies have shown that a more plant-based diet lessens the chance of being overweight and obese. There are also some ways in which cutting meat from the diet once a week can lead to weight loss, and generally increase health benefits.
Fiber, Nutrients, and Plant-based Foods
Many studies have shown that vegetarians have consistently lower Body Mass Indexes than meat eaters, regardless of age, sex, or social class. According to Women’s Health,” Studies show that vegetarians and vegans weight 3 to 20 percent less than their carnivorous counterparts.” Even being a vegetarian one day a week can bring the same benefits as full vegetarianism, simply on a smaller scale. If, for Meatless Mondays, meat is cut from the diet, plant-based foods should make up the majority of the diet. Higher consumption of plant-based foods means more nutrients, higher amounts of fiber, and, sometimes, less calories.
According to WebMD, “Vegans and vegetarians typically eat diets that are higher in carbohydrates and dietary fiber and lower in calories, protein, total fat, cholesterol, and saturated fat.” Simply adding more fibrous fruits and vegetables to the diet slows the rate of digestion and helps the body feel full faster and for a longer period of time. Generally, this reduces the likelihood of overeating and limits calorie intake. Meat contains little or no fiber, whereas most vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and vegetarian sources of protein do. Beans, for example, are used in many dishes in place of meat, and are a great source of fiber and protein, with considerably less calories. Observing vegetarianism one day a week can help boost intake of plant-based foods, meaning more fiber and nutrients, for better digestion and more satiety, possibly leading to weight loss.
Weight loss truly comes down to burning more calories than the amount taken in. By controlling the amount of calories eaten, this is much easier. Meat is much more calorically dense than plant-based foods. By reducing meat consumption, and increasing plant food intake, weight loss can be much easier. Vegetarians can still eat junk food and drink sugary beverages, however, but steering clear of these and making whole and nutrient rich foods the building blocks of Meatless Mondays can aid in weight loss. Whether they come from animal flesh or not, calories still count. Vegetables, whole grains, and fruits tend to be lower in calories than most other foods, however, and should be the focus of Meatless Mondays.
Having a more plant-based diet can increase fiber and nutrient intake, for longer periods of satiety, possibly reducing the amount of calories eaten. Eating more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, even for one day a week, can aid in weight loss. When combined with a regular exercise routine, observing Meatless Mondays can be a great way to increase the consumption of plant-based foods, as well as the likelihood of weight loss, and the lowers the risk of being overweight or obese.