Guest blogger, Heather is behind the blog Kitchen Concoctions, a blog that features fast, fresh, family friendly recipes, cooking tips & tricks and much more.
For many years vegetarians made up a very small portion of the U.S. population. However, recently, due to increased environmental and health awareness, and the very popular “Meatless Monday” campaign, the vegetarian diet and lifestyle has been gaining popularity. The idea of Meatless Monday is simple, one day a week, eliminate meat from your diet and eat more fresh fruits and veggies. This simple change will not only save you money, but will reduce the risk of heart disease, help with weight loss, and overall promote more conscious eating and a healthy lifestyle.
Living a vegetarian lifestyle is often a very personal decision, stemming from religious and cultural upbringings and health needs; thus resulting in several different types of plant-based diets. Below are the six common classifications of “vegetarian” eating:
Vegans: Maintaining the strictest of all vegetarian diets, vegans only eat plant products and avoid everything made from animals like cheese, milk and honey.
Lacto-vegetarians: In addition to a plant-based diet, lacto-vegetarians consume dairy products.
Ovo-vegetarians: In addition to a plant-based diet, ovo-vegetarians incorporate eggs into their diet.
Lacto-ovo vegetarians: Are the most common type of vegetarians and eat both dairy products and eggs in addition to a plant-based diet.
Pescatarians: Consume fish, dairy and eggs, in addition to a plant-based diet.
Flexitarian: Is someone who generally follows the lacto-ovo vegetarian diet but occasionally eats meat, fish, or poultry.
Switching to a vegetarian lifestyle permanently, or simply eating meatless one day a week as a family; may seem a bit challenging at first. However with perseverance and these tips, Meatless Monday can be a success.
- Tip 1: Preparing new meals and learning new eating habits may take some time to get accustom to. Choosing a convenient day of the week for your family to eat meat free, will result in the most success. Use this day to not only prepare meatless meals but as a day to prepare fresh fruits and vegetables for meals and snacking throughout the week.
- Tip 2: Learning new cooking techniques may make those veggies more appealing to kids, and even adults. Try eating vegetables raw, steamed, sautéed, roasted and grilled.
- Tip 3: No need to fret about the protein! There are many meatless protein options available; try quinoa, beans, lentils, whole grains, nuts and seeds, seitan, tempeh, tofu, and veggie burgers.
- Tip 4: Be creative and take family favorite recipes and transform them into a meatless option. Love chicken parmesan? Try eggplant parmesan! Other options are black bean burgers, meatless soups and salads, vegetable stir-fry and enchiladas filled with veggies, rice and beans.
- Tip 5: Do research and find inspiration at local cooking schools, libraries, bookstores, grocery stores, farmers markets, recipe websites and blogs. These are all valuable resources to find additional vegetarian meal ideas, as well as vegetarian cooking tips and tricks.
- Tip 6: If cooking for friends who are vegetarian or transiting to a more permanent vegetarian lifestyle, it is important to read the labels of your favorite cookies, condiments and other store bought soups and sauces, to ensure these items are in fact appropriate for a vegetarian diet. Luckily many of these items, like Stubb’s Sauces and Marinades, are vegetarian approved. In fact, not only is every Stubb’s product, except for the Honey Pecan Bar-B-Q Sauce vegan, it is also certified gluten free too!
- Tip 7: Find support in friends and family by encouraging them to also eat meatless one day a week. Host a vegetarian recipe exchange or neighborhood vegetarian potluck to share meatless meal planning tip and recipes.
To get your Meatless Monday started, try these hearty Three Bean Chili Stuffed Bell Peppers!