Don't cry over spilled veggies.

Meatless Monday, not just a trendy # Hashtag:


Well, isn't this amazing?  I love that Meatless Monday is a real thing. It’s easy to get lost in the quickness of social media.  The come and go style of Instagram, for instance, doesn’t allow for ALL of the information to be communicated.  So Meatless Monday, personally speaking, was just a fun indulge hashtag along with a meatless photo opp.  As I dove deeper, since I was heading into the “day” itself and starting to brainstorm recipes,  I come to find out it’s interesting and purposeful history as follows: "Meatless Monday is an international campaign that encourages people to not eat meat on Mondays to improve their health and the health of the planet. Meatless Monday is a non-profit initiative of The Monday Campaigns Inc. in association with the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health Center for a Livable Future. Meatless Monday was founded in 2003 by marketing professional Sid Lerner. The program follows the nutrition guidelines developed by the USDA.[1] Meatless Monday is part of the Healthy Monday initiative.[2]Healthy Monday encourages Americans to make healthier decisions at the start of every week.

So clearly the meatless tradition has been around for a while, way before social media and hashtags brought it to my attention. I may not even be telling some of you things you don't already know. Eat more fresh fruits and vegetables. Strive to consume a more plant diet. Eat more foods that will provide you with organic, raw, natural nutrients rather than processed foods that don't offer any substance and are also harming the planet. Do I sound a little harsh? Well, I'm not here to sugar coat this. Nutrition is a beautiful thing and if I have to expose a few undesirable topics to get to the root of greatness, nourishment that is then so be it. 

So, why go meatless? Let me start by saying I am not a vegan or vegetarian. Although I don’t indulge in red meat very often it isn't void from my eating lifestyle either.  The humane aspect alone is why some opt to cut it out altogether. There is certainly no way to spin consuming animal products into a cause worthy plan of action. I would never try to convince a vegan that they are missing out. Same goes for us meat eaters, we shouldn't be shamed for enjoying our protein of choice. However, if you are going to partake there's definitely  friendly options these days compared to a decade ago. I'm talking about how the animals are raised and treated. So please do your part to research where your meat protein comes from when shopping.  So, back to today and diving into some yummy fresh produce, grains and meat alternatives. Let's talk options.  What can you do to make the most of the meat-free day? What are the benefits of loading up on grains, veggies, legumes, nuts, fruit and meat alternatives like, soy (tofu), seitan and tempeh? For one, and this is going to be a running theme with me at The Food Athlete, your body wants to be fed a variety of whole foods, meat or not. Healthy eating is smart but there's no need to eat salmon five times a week just because you want the omegas. Try adding ground flax to your morning oatmeal, or walnuts to salad. There are hundreds of choices when it comes to mixing it up to get benefits from different edibles. Did you know abstaining from meat for just one day, (that's all you need) to observe a plant-based diet will help increase your antioxidant intake, battle free radicals, and provide your body clean fuel to protect your cells. Not to mention all the awesome potential of preventing some cancers and diabetes. Cleansing your system with more natural fruits and veggies in between meal time will detour you from snacking on the harmful processed foods that we sometimes reach for during mindless eating moments.   As for you fitness addicts out there, don't be afraid to go meatless thinking that you won't get your protein in for the day. That's just silly. Smart combos of grains and beans can give you all the amino acids you need to help repair muscles after a workout. One of my go-to post workout recovery fuel is a  Pea Protein Smoothie, (I'm still trying out Plant/Pea brands to find my fave): add frozen pineapple, frozen watermelon, fresh grated ginger, a date to sweeten, raw almonds, almond milk, spinach to  1 1/2 scoops of the protein (it's  like 30 grams) Plants baby!! Love them!

Legumes like beans can easily be added to (like I mentioned above) grain bowls to form complete proteins or just thrown into fresh salads. One of my favorites to whip up is: White Bean Puree: Cup of cannelloni beans, shallot, vinegar, olive oil, lemon, roasted garlic, pink salt, and ground black pepper. Throw it all in  my Magic Bullet and blend 'til it looks like a thick sauce.  This is such a fun alternative to hummus. Dunk in raw veggies for a snack, or spread on crackers instead of cheese. You get all that protein and less fat (processed fats that is). And if you're needing your fat fill for the day (because we all know some fats aren't bad for us,right?) slice some avocado and top it over the cracker spread. Lately, I've been making my bean quota with Bean Spaghetti. Check out my recipe on my page Let's Cook Together.



The bottom line on going plant style for the day? Just do it! It for sure takes a lot of planning if vegetarian is going to be your full-time gig.  But one day?  C'mon, you got this.  So whether it's for a cause like saving the climate, improving our environment, education in the school system to motivate kids to eat more veggies, or simply raise awareness about living a more nutritious lifestyle, going meatless once a week, as you can see has many delicious up sides. Too many ups that you may not want to come down. Come back and join me The Food Athlete on Mondays on my page Let's Cook Together for more Meatless recipes. Happy Plant Hunting Friends!

xx Jessi (your food athlete) xx


PS Friends-  I'm having some issues with the comments button for this page and Let's Cook Together.  I would still love to hear your comments so if you feel inclined to speak about what I write please visit my Instagram @jessipiha and comment there. Thank you!