Thinking about going meatless at least one day a week? You’re in for a treat! Plants are bursting with enough flavor, nutrition and versatility to build satisfying, mouthwatering meals. Whether you’re looking for savory, sweet, crunchy, chewy, tender, crispy, spicy, juicy or creamy, there are vegetarian meals to suit your tastes. And don’t forget that plant-based meals can include much more than vegetables. Nuts, seeds, whole grains, beans, fruits, herbs and soy-based meat substitutes can all be part of the mix.
Are Plant-Based Meals More Expensive?
Not necessarily. In fact, if you’re planning to make your Meatless Monday meals at home, you might find yourself saving money. If budget is on your mind, know that plant-based proteins are usually less expensive than animal-based proteins. Of course, prices vary by region, but a serving of black beans is likely less expensive than a serving of chicken, pork or beef. The same applies to tofu, eggs and lentils.
Are Plant-Based Meals Better for the Environment?
Choosing plant-based meals is better for the planet in most cases. The production of plant-based foods generally produces less greenhouse gas emissions and uses less water compared to the production of meat, poultry, fish, and dairy. The caveat is that you still don’t want to waste food, even if it’s environmentally friendly. Wasted food, whether it’s animal or plant-based, can actually cause more harm to the planet.
Can Meatless Mondays Make Me Healthier?
You may have heard that eating more plants is good for your health, and there’s lots of evidence to suggest that this is true! Replacing animal-based foods with plant-based foods, even once per week, increases our chances of enjoying several health benefits — reduced inflammation, lower risk of death from heart disease, improved weight loss, and lower blood pressure can all be attributed to eating more plants.
Not sure if adopting a more plant-based diet is feasible for your lifestyle and nutrition needs? Schedule a virtual visit with a Foodsmart Registered Dietitian to ask all of your burning plant-based questions! They can give you personalized recommendations and meal plans that suit your unique needs.
Recipes for Delicious Meatless Mondays
If you’re ready to embrace Meatless Mondays (or any other meatless day of the week for that matter), here are four of our favorite healthy recipes to get you started.
1. Southwest Quinoa Salad
This festive and satisfying salad is delicious warm or chilled, and it’s overflowing with key nutrients that many of us don’t get enough of in our diets. For example, black beans and quinoa are excellent sources of magnesium. This mineral helps control blood sugar and is essential for bone health, among other things. Tomatoes and fresh lime juice contain vitamin C, which helps our bodies absorb iron from plant-based sources. Since low iron intake can lead to anemia, which is most common among women of childbearing age and vegetarians, pairing vitamin C sources (like tomatoes and lime) with vegetarian sources of iron (like beans) can reduce the risk of anemia.
2. Blueberry Mint Smoothie
Who says Meatless Monday has to be reserved for dinner? Try this refreshing and tangy smoothie for breakfast. Creamy avocado and zesty mint complement each other for a decadent treat. Unlike many other sweet breakfast options, this one contains plenty of fiber, protein and healthy fats to keep you full until lunch. It also contains vitamin D and more calcium than a cup of milk. Compared to many other plant-based milks, soy milk has the most protein and the calcium is well absorbed. In other words, this smoothie gives you a lot of bang for your sip. Pack it to go for a quick breakfast on the run.
3. Red Lentil and Sweet Potato Curry
If you’ve been thinking of trying out a meatless dinner but worry about getting enough protein, look no further. This flavorful lentil curry contains plenty. Regular intake of lentils and other legumes also comes with other benefits, including a lower risk of heart disease, improved blood sugar levels and reduced risk of certain cancers. Try this lentil curry with a side of plain yogurt and whole-grain pita or brown rice.
4. Tofu Scramble with Black Beans and Avocado
If you’re not sure about tofu, this dish just might win you over. This delicious recipe comes together quickly and owes its beautiful colors to golden turmeric and bright red bell pepper. Soy sometimes gets a bad rap, but tofu is an example of a whole soy food. Whole soy foods, unlike their processed cousins, have their nutritional value intact and have been safely consumed by people around the world for thousands of years. Pair this simple whole-food scramble with a side of whole-wheat toast and fruit for a beautifully balanced meal.