Take the Month-Long Meatless Monday Challenge

by Andrew Laker | Jan 01, 2016

This new year, skip the sweeping resolutions. Instead, aim to start each week with a single small change. Take the Meatless Monday Challenge for a taste of what a plant-based diet can do for your health.

Cutting back on meat by just 15 percent — about one day a week — may reduce your risk for type 2 diabetes, heart disease and even some cancers, health experts say. Plus, it can help you keep your weight in check.

Ready to start? Here’s your week-by-week guide to making the Meatless Monday Challenge work for you.

WEEK 1: RECRUIT A GROUP
Have your family choose, prepare and share a Meatless Monday dinner. And consider asking friends or co-workers to plan a veg-friendly lunch potluck. Meals to try: Yogurt parfaits with your choice of fruit and nuts for breakfast; salad with vegetables, beans, tofu and nuts for lunch; pizza with veggie toppings for dinner.

WEEK 2: UPGRADE A FAMILY FAVORITE 
Win over meatless skeptics by transforming beloved meat-based recipes into vegetable-rich dishes. Meals to try: Soy-based sausage for breakfast; veggie burger on a wholegrain bun for lunch; pasta primavera for dinner.

WEEK 3: TRY SOMETHING NEW
Try a meat substitute like tempeh (chewy, cultured soybeans). Or pick up a new-to-you vegetable, such as cabbagelike bok choy. Meals to try: Scrambled tofu for breakfast; falafel with whole-grain pita and vegetables for lunch; tacos stuffed with tempeh for dinner.

WEEK 4: REWARD YOURSELF WITH A MEAL OUT
Take your meat-free skills out of the kitchen. Ethnic cuisines — including Japanese, Thai and Indian — often offer a variety of meatless options. Meals to try: Whole-wheat crepes for breakfast; minestrone, an Italian soup with kidney beans and tomatoes, for lunch (try the recipe on this page); an Indian dish with lentils and curried vegetables for dinner.

TRY THIS TASTY VEGETARIAN RECIPE

Minestrone Soup: A cholesterol-free, fiber-rich Italian vegetable soup.

INGREDIENTS
¼ cup olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced, or 1 ⁄8 teaspoon garlic powder
1 1 ⁄3 cups coarsely chopped onion
1 ½ cups coarsely chopped celery and leaves
1 can (6 oz.) tomato paste
1 tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
1 cup sliced carrots, fresh or frozen
4 ¾ cups shredded cabbage
1 can (1 lb.) tomatoes, cut up
1 cup canned red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 ½ cups frozen peas
1 ½ cups green beans
11 cups water
2 cups uncooked, broken spaghetti
Dash of hot sauce

DIRECTIONS
1. Heat oil in a 4-quart saucepan.
2. Add garlic, onion, and celery and sauté about five minutes.
3. Add all remaining ingredients except spaghetti, and stir until ingredients are well mixed.
4. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer about 45 minutes or until vegetables are tender.
5. Add uncooked spaghetti and simmer two to three minutes only.

PER SERVING Serves 16; serving size is 1 cup Each serving provides: Calories 153, Total fat 4 g, Saturated fat less than 1 g, Cholesterol 0 mg, and Sodium 191 mg

Source: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, National Institutes of Health

WANT MORE RECIPES?
Visit crh.org/recipes and get a collection of our favorite healthy recipes and healthy eating tips for every season.