Today, we’re talking about Meatless Monday. Specifically, we’re talking about how to make Meatless Monday meals for meat lovers. Which can be a bit tricky, right?
So I’m sure you’ve heard about Meatless Monday by now.
But if you haven’t, it’s a thing!
Meatless Monday is a global movement that was started in 2003 to help people improve their health, as well as eat something that’s easier on the environment.
Why try Meatless Monday?
If you’re reading this post, I’m guessing you know that eating less meat and chicken can be beneficial for your health, but you may not know about the environmental impacts.
Here’s more on that…
A study published in Science in 2018 shows that while meat and dairy provide just 18% of calories and 37% of protein, animal agriculture uses the vast majority – 83% – of farmland and produces a whopping 60% of agriculture’s greenhouse gas emissions (Source: The Guardian).
Joseph Poore, who led the research at the University of Oxford, UK, went on to say, “A vegan diet is probably the single biggest way to reduce your impact on planet Earth, not just greenhouse gases, but global acidification, eutrophication, land use and water use… It is far bigger than cutting down on your flights or buying an electric car.”
If you want to learn even more about the environmental impact of animal agriculture, you'll definitely want to check out the documentary Cowspiracy.
For now, though, let's circle back to Meatless Monday. Even if you don’t want to go vegan full time, doing a weekly Meatless Monday can still have a powerful impact on the environment.
To prove it, here are some great stats from the people who run Earth Day.
Just imagine — if, over the course of the year, you:
- Ate one less burger a week, it would be the equivalent of taking your car off the road for 320 miles.
- Skip meat and cheese one day a week with your family, it would be the equivalent of taking your car off the road for five weeks – or reducing everyone’s daily showers by 3 minutes.
- Skip steak once a week with your family, it would be the equivalent of taking your car off the road for nearly three months.
- And if the entire U.S. did not eat meat or cheese for just one day a week, it would be the equivalent of not driving 91 billion miles – or taking 7.6 million cars off the road.
That last one blows my mind. Crazy right? 7.6 million cars!
It’s amazing to think about what could happen if every American gave up meat and cheese for just one day a week!
Personality types and Meatless Monday
When it comes to Meatless Monday, I’ve found there are three types of people.
In Group One, we have people who are all in. They love Meatless Monday, and are frequent participants. Or maybe they’re even going Meatless Every Day.
Group Two is comprised of people who are in the “no way, no how” camp when it comes to meatless anything. Chances are people in this camp aren’t reading this blog post. However, they may be in your family or circle of loved ones. And if you’re interested in trying Meatless Monday, these may be the people who are holding you back.
Group Three includes people who are interested in doing Meatless Monday on a more regular basis. Maybe they’ve even tried it a few times. But when they did, the fam or the partner or the peeps weren’t down, and so they gave up. Or, they’re not sure how to make those Meatless Monday dinners taste delicious and satisfying.
Does any of this ring true for you?
Well, if you’re in Group One or Three, then this blog post is for you!
And if you’re in Group Two and you’re still reading this, keep going! Maybe you’ll find some inspiration and appetizing ideas that will encourage you to migrate over to Meatless Monday sometime soon.
How to make Meatless Monday work for you… and your people
If you want to try Meatless Monday, but your loved ones are protesting the mere idea of meatless anything, you’ll need to take a strategic approach.
Instead of springing a meatless meal on your people, be sure to talk about it well in advance.
As Simon Sinek said in his famous Ted Talk, start with why. Explain to your people why you want to try this Meatless Monday thing.
Maybe you want to try Meatless Monday to lose weight, or to simply feel lighter in your step. Or maybe you want to help support a loved one who is on a weight loss journey or is dealing with high cholesterol.
Or maybe you want to try some more budget-friendly meals such as beans-and-rice. With guacamole, of course.
Or maybe it’s as simple as this: You want to live a long, healthy and happy life. And you want your people to live a long, healthy and happy life. And, because of that, you want to get Meatless Monday on the meal planning calendar.
Need more ammunition? I don’t like to scare people, but sometimes you need to go there to get people to listen: regular consumption of meat (and even poultry) definitely comes with some serious drama:
- Meat proteins increase heart disease risk (Source: Newsweek). I think we all know this, but it’s worth reminding people, especially if they’re dealing with high cholesterol and/or high blood pressure, or taking medication to resolve these issues.
- Eating red and processed meats increases cancer risk (Source: Harvard Medical School).
- Chicken and poultry consumption can increase risk for stomach, pancreatic, prostate and endometrial cancer, as well as lymphoma (Source: Nutritionfacts.org).
How to make Meatless Monday meals a meat-lover will love
Now that we’ve talked about the scary stuff, we can move onto the fun part — how to make plant-based meals taste good. For you, as well as your meat-loving friends and family.
When helping a meat-lover embrace more meatless fare, I believe there are three goals for the meatless meal. The food must:
- Taste great
- Resemble the kinds of foods people are familiar with. In other words, if people already like burgers, then try plant-based burgers for a change.
Let’s break this down…
How to make meatless meals satisfying
First of all, the meatless meal must be satisfying.
After all, many people resist meatless fare because they think it’ll be a boring salad or other “rabbit food.” Bottom line, they don’t want to go hungry, especially when it comes to dinner.
So, we need to feed them something they can really dig into.
Here are some foods that can help people feel more full:
- Sweet potatoes or potatoes: roasted or steamed, a base of potatoes goes a long way. Sweet potatoes are higher in nutrients, but regular potatoes work too. They’re both very healthy for you, especially if you eat the skin (scrub them before cooking).
- Whole grains: brown rice, quinoa and wild rice are also great for rounding out a meal. Cook your grains with some veggie stock instead of water so they’ll have more flavor, and then enjoy on the side or incorporate into a Buddha Bowl, rice-and-beans (or this prep-ahead Burrito Bowl), or this Quick Chickpea Curry.
- Healthy Fat: Adding some healthy fat will also increase satiety. Think sliced avocado or some store-bought guacamole, or a drizzle of a delicious sauce such as my Spicy Buffalo Sauce. Incorporating some nuts and seeds is also a great way to add some healthy fat (and crunch) to a meal.
How to make Meatless Monday meals taste delicious
Next, the meal must be delicious. Full of flavor. Not bland. Not boring.
Here are some ideas for how to pull that off:
- Read this post: For starters, check out this blog post, “How to Make Healthy Food Taste Delicious.” I included lots of ideas in that post.
- Sauté with onions and garlic: There’s a reason nearly all soups and stews start out with a base of sautéed onion and garlic. This basic step provides tons of flavor. In addition, slowly sautéeing some onions in a pan until they caramelize adds deep, rich flavor to any dish.
- Use your spice collection: Some basic spices I use all of the time include cumin, granulated garlic, dried onion flakes, red chili flakes, smoked paprika, curry powder — and of course, freshly ground pepper and sea salt (Oh hiiiii, Jacobsen Salt Co.!). Even a simple sprinkling of granulated garlic and smoked paprika onto raw veggies before roasting can transform them into something worth writing home about.
- Resist adding cheese to everything: When going meatless, a lot of people will overcompensate by adding a lot of cheese. However, cheese is difficult for a lot of people to digest, and there are numerous other health risks associated with dairy as well. Instead, add richness and flavor by adding a tasty sauce (see below).
- Add guacamole: I mean, come on! Who doesn’t love guacamole? Well, people who have an avocado allergy, I suppose. But besides them, guacamole is a crowd pleaser for both the meatless (or eating-less-meat) peeps and meat lovers alike.
- All the fixins: Everyone loves a condiment bar — and this can be a great way to woo meat-lovers over to Meatless Monday. Here’s an example: serve my Veggie Packed Chili with your family’s favorite toppings — chopped onion, pickled jalapeño, tomatoes, corn, whatever you like — and they’ll be so stoked about the toppings they won’t mind that the chili is meat-free. And if you really want to make it seem meat-like, add some Beyond Meat Crumbles to the chili. The meaty texture and flavor will blow your mind — and theirs!
- Serve with a yummy sauce: Food without sauce is sad, right? Spice things up with my Spicy Buffalo Sauce, Peanut Sauce, or even my Vegan Nacho Cheese Sauce. If you’re in a pinch, try a store-bought sauce such as Yumm Sauce.
- When in doubt, add hot sauce: I basically think everything tastes better with Cholula. But there are so many amazing hot sauces out there. Always make sure you have your favorites (and your people’s) on hand.
I hope today’s post helps you bring tastier — and more frequent — Meatless Monday meals to your table.
If you have any questions or comments, connect with me over on Instagram. I’d love to hear from you!