Protein rich foods, including both animal and non-animal sources are important components in a healthy, balanced diet, but have you ever considered going meat free for at least one day a week?
For many people this seems virtually out of the question and we often hear people (especially males) saying that they wouldn’t feel satisfied without an animal source of protein (e.g. red meat, chicken, fish) on their plate. Well, we believe otherwise and have had many clients (including men!) incorporate meat-free days into their week and absolutely love it! We believe that with the right knowledge and tools you can feel just as satisfied (if not more) without meat on your plate. Opting for at least one meat free day per week is going to reap huge benefits and here are our top 5:
1. Ward off disease
With Aussies coming in as the biggest meat eaters in the world, it’s safe to say many of us would be exceeding the weekly recommendation of having less than 500g of beef, pork and lamb. Animal products including meat and meat products contribute saturated fat to our diet. Eating too much saturated fat is associated with high cholesterol levels and is a major contributor to heart disease, cancers and obesity. By reducing the amount of red meat in your diet, research suggests you can significantly lower your risk of many of these chronic diseases. Furthermore, by replacing red meat with more vegetables, you’re likely to have a higher intake of antioxidants and fibre in your diet, which can further help to prevent disease.
2. Keep the weight off
The latest research suggests that the majority of Australians are lacking when it comes to consuming enough fruits, vegetables, legumes and wholegrains. Choosing to go one day a week without meat can force you to include more of these food sources in your diets, meaning you’re able to reap the added health benefits. Vegetarian meals tend to be very high in fibre, which is great for the health of our digestive systems and blood sugar levels and also helps to keep us feeling fuller – meaning we are less likely to overeat and put on weight. Remember to choose a wide variety of coloured vegetables, as each colour contains different phytonutrients, which all have important health benefits.
3. Save money
Would you like to save some $$ on your next grocery bill? Going meatless has more than just health benefits! Meatless products like vegetables, wholegrains and legumes are actually a much more affordable option than meat products and therefore is likely to save you significant dollars in the long run. In fact you can even grow your own veggie garden and really save on shopping!
4. Look after our planet
Did you know that in Australia food production is the second leading cause of Green House Gas Emissions? And a whopping 70% of these emissions come from animal production! We’re not asking you to buy a pushbike and start cycling to work every day (even though this would be great!), but consuming meatless meals for even one day a week means you can contribute to looking after our planet.
5. Mix it up
Don’t get us wrong, we’re not recommending that you all need to cut meat from your diet completely. But like all things nutrition, it comes down to moderation, and including even one meat free day per week can help to bring the balance back into your diet. Try to use meatless Monday’s as a creative way to explore new foods you may not have tried before. If you’re in need of some simple recipes ideas, head to our website and check out some of our meat-free dishes here .
A special thanks to Alyse Jai Davies who co-authored this piece with The Biting Truth. Alyse is currently completing her Masters in nutrition and Dietetics at the University of Sydney.