For many people, a meal simply isn’t simply a meal if there a protein component gracing the plate. Whether it is a piece of chicken, a pork chop, or piece of meatloaf, animal proteins are the typical norm in the American diet.
As much as I love munching on a medium-rare steak, I feel a bit unhealthy afterwards and I want to hit the gym to burn off the calories. Being raised in an Asian household, meat was used more of a garnish while fresh vegetables and rice took the dinner spotlight. With our integration into American society, we found ourselves eating the typical “meat and potatoes” meals popularized in American sitcoms and whatnot.
I ate fairly healthy when I was a kid, with fruit serving as my dessert after dinner as well as having red meat once or twice a month. Nowadays, my intake of fruits and vegetables has been decreasing and I find myself instead reaching for processed, refined, and high-calorie foods to quell my hunger. My energy levels used to be quite high when I was younger but now I feel lethargic and irritable. As much as I loved eating different foods, it was time for me to find an intervention to improve my well-being.
While perusing a few of my favorite food blogs, I found a movement that inspired me to get my diet back in gear. Called “Meatless Mondays”, it’s a social phenomenon created by the non-profit organization The Monday Campaigns. They are affiliated with the John Hopkins’ Bloomberg School of Public Health and they hope to decrease the average American’s meat consumption by 15 percent. By doing so, they hope to not only increase a person’s health but also decrease the environmental impact meat processing has in the world.
Now, before people cry out the words, “hippie” or “tree-hugger,” let me tell you this. According to the Meatless Monday website, presidents such as Woodrow Wilson, Harry S. Truman, and Franklin Roosevelt issued out voluntary meat-free days during World War I and World War II. Many people participated in the event and to this day, it is seeing a comeback.
Mondays are usually the most stressful day for the average American and the last thing on a person’s mind when he or she comes home is the preparation of dinner. Leftovers, take-out, or frozen food take the stage for a Monday dinner, but why not change things up a bit? A tofu stir-fry, lentil soup, or a tray of cheese enchiladas can be a tasty and meat-free way to spice up your dinner night. If everyone does this once a day for every week, then we can truly see a greater impact on the environment as well as our waistlines.