Can Meatless Monday Really Make Us Healthier?


What is Meatless Monday?

Meatless Mondays is a global campaign to help us lower the consumption of meat, for our health and the environment. It is now active in over 40 countries worldwide and continues to grow! I grew up in a family of eight kids, and we were grateful for the meals provided to us. We always had meat at our meals. The only time my mother had us “abstain” from eating meat was all the Fridays of Lent before Easter. I grew up in a catholic household and this was instilled in us through our religion. Not eating meat was not much of a sacrifice for me, but we did it anyway. Now, if I had to abstain from dessert, THAT would be another story!


Meatless Monday History

Food will win the war

Meatless Mondays dates back to World War 1. Americans were asked to limit their meat consumption.  It was originally Tuesdays, not Mondays. They also had Wheatless Wednesdays and asked the US citizens to cut back on fat and sugar as well. This greatly helped nourish US soldiers overseas and care for struggling Allies.

It was brought back again in WWII for the same reasons.  

Meatless Monday was founded in 2003 by Sid Lerner in association with the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. The newer version of the campaign supports health, nutrition, the environment, and animal welfare. They chose Monday as it’s the start of a new week, and a good time to start new diets or give up bad habits. They switched it to Monday as the two M’s in Meatless Monday make a catchy slogan. 


Unbelievable facts on how going meatless affects your health

Mortality from Circulatory Diseases

Wartime history provides us with important information regarding the correlation between animal-based diets and mortality rates. Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn Jr. explains how deaths from coronary artery disease plummeted during World War II, from 1939-1945. The Germans confiscated all of the livestock and farm animals from the Norwegian countries to supply food for their own troops. As a result, the Norwegians were forced to eat mainly plant-based foods, such as whole grains, legumes, vegetables, and fruit.

Almost immediately, death from heart attacks and strokes in Norway plummeted. In 1945 animal products became available (meat and dairy) again. Notice an alarming increase to the pre-war levels of deaths from these illnesses. It is a powerful lesson in public health that we should all take to heart! (pun intended)



Why Meatless Monday is important

Meatless Monday

Going one day a week without meat can help you reverse chronic disease in your body. It’s healthy to give your body a break as animal proteins are harder for your system to break down than plant proteins. Meat can be hard on your digestive tracts. This can also give you a chance to try new recipes, add variety to your diet and get nutrients that you might otherwise be lacking.


Meatless Monday Environmental Impact

How does going meatless reduce your carbon footprint? Cutting back on meat can be good for both your wallet and the environment. Swapping meat for plant proteins, like beans, for example, can reduce the amount you spend on groceries on a weekly basis. Beans are very affordable! It also reduces your carbon footprint, water usage, and fuel dependence. It’s a simple act that saves us money and helps our community by acting responsibly towards lowering our carbon footprint.


Meatless Monday – what a difference a day makes!

Monday is now our favorite day

Here are the benefits of not eating meat for one day a week, which is just 15% less per week.

  1. It Protects Our Soil – Raising livestock leads to deforestation, which consequently weakens and erodes our soil. The world loses roughly the size of Panama each year to deforestation, which also accelerates climate change (trees store carbon).
  • It Conserves Water – Livestock drink and pollute a lot of water. It takes 100 to 200 times more water to raise a pound of beef than it does to raise a pound of plant foods.
  • It Purifies the Air – All the livestock in the world cause more air pollution than all the cars, buses, planes, ships and other modes of transportation in the world combined! Plants clean the air.
  • It Combats World Hunger – A lot of the food that’s grown in the world isn’t being eaten by humans. In fact, 70% of the grain grown in the US feeds livestock, and, globally, 83% of farmland is set aside to raise animals. 

Meatless Mondays – Health Topics

Take a big fat break - go meatless Monday

On average, Americans eat 50% more than the daily recommended intake of meat. On the flip side, we consume less than half of our daily recommended intake for fruits and vegetables. Basically, we are deficient in produce and overdosing on meat, and it’s not just bad news for the environment.

But does it make much of a difference to our health? Meat has still been linked to cancer and type 2 diabetes. Also, several studies have shown that people who eat less meat live longer

If you become vegan and cut out meat from your diet completely, then you will need a vitamin B12. But if it’s once a week, you needn’t be concerned.


The benefits of Meatless Monday

Meatless Monday can make you feel good physically, may help you in the long term and can make you feel like you’re making a small, positive change to the environment. Of course, Meatless Monday can be any day of the week that works best for you. You can choose your day to make a healthy choice!


Kid-friendly Meatless Monday meal

For some quick and easy meatless meals, pasta is always a kids favorite. Now, you have many choices on how you can pair that up. Choose your favorite pasta, and you can add cheese sauce, pasta sauce, Bolognese sauce, garlic & vegan butter sauce, or sauté with favorite veggies. You can also get a bit more detailed, and make vegan lasagna, or simply make a cold pasta salad which is great for lunches. Here are some of my kids’ favorites:


Meatless day menu


Meatless Breakfast

The easy and obvious is always cereal with plant-based milk or toast with peanut butter and jam. We also like oatmeal topped with bananas and walnuts to warm us up on cold mornings. But on weekends, we tend to get a little fancier.

Meatless Lunch

Whether at home or school lunch, here are some yummy ideas for the kids.

We can't wait for Monday

Meatless Dinner

Dinner doesn’t have to take a lot of time to prepare. Some of these are easy to put together on busy weeknights, others you can plan ahead of time and do a bit of prep the night before, or on the weekend.


Now we get Mondays off

Meatless Snacks

Quick and easy snacks for after school hunger or lunches.

If your kids are not excited about eating vegetables, Emily has some great tips on how to get toddlers to eat their vegetables.  


Healthy Meatless Dinner Recipes

March to a different drumstick

For more ideas on ideas on meatless meals, there is an abundance of great resources all over the web. When I need more inspiration, I visit some of my favorite plant-based websites.

5 Reasons Why You Should Start a Meatless Monday Tradition in your Household

You're not losing a burger, you're gaining a healthier way of life
  1. You will give your body a day break from difficult digestion, and consequently feel great.
  2. You could reduce your chances of developing chronic illness.
  3. It can save you money at the grocery store.
  4. It could help you reduce your carbon footprint.
  5. You’ll expand your knowledge in the kitchen and learn new cooking techniques.



So, do you think you can do it? I know you can! It’s fun and easy – and what an impact you will make! Your children can be a part of a great initiative to help increase their personal health, and the health of the planet. Kids love to make a difference and be a part of something important. Often times, they are the ones who will keep us accountable. If you are feeling overwhelmed by trying something new, Nicole advocates meal planning and prep and has great tips for busy moms.

About the Author

My daughter and I are now vegan, so we have entirely removed meat from our diets, and I can honestly say that it was an easy and refreshing transition. But again, that’s a whole other story! 





Hi! I’m Denise, creator of My Life Diversions. I’m a mom of 2 busy teen girls, so I get through my day with a full pot of tea and prayer. I am also a wife, teacher, blogger and day trader. My desire is to help moms make healthier meals for their families and feel amazing! I am passionate about plant-based eating, even if you start off slowly. I want to help get better health for you and your family. Subscribe here to get some great information on how to get going and for more inspiration on plant-based eating!

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