Meatless Mondays: The Benefits Of Vegetarianism
Fresh fruit and veg on a market stall. Image courtesy of wikimedia commons
Aiming for a well balanced, healthy diet that is high in fresh fruit and vegetables should be everyone’s goal. The benefits of eating well mean that the overall health of the body isn’t compromised in any way and that the stresses and strains of daily life are easier to cope with. It’s true that fad diets come and go, but Vegetarianism is something that rarely wanes in popularity. Over the last few years, across not only the US, but the rest of the world too, a campaign has begun, to introduce vegetarianism to everyone and encourage them to give up meat for just one day a week, not solely to help themselves understand eating well, but also help the environment too. It’s called Meatless Monday and it’s something everyone should consider.
The campaign to introduce everyone to how good vegetarian food can be was originally set up nine years ago in 2003 by Sid Lerner. It’s backed up by the US Department of Agriculture and further supported by the John Hopkins School of Public Health. It asks everyone to consider not just cutting out the meat from their diet one day a week, but also to think about the health and environmental implications of continued consumption of animal protein and the heavily processed by products of the meat industry. The Duke’s Alehouse and Kitchen’s own Meatless Monday is something that has become very popular, with many people deciding to experiment with the vegetarian options on the menu.
Maintaining a balanced vegetarian diet
The heart of a good vegetarian diet. Image courtesy of wikimedia commons
A vegetarian diet can be just as well balanced and nutritionally complete as one that includes meat, which is something many people who are considering wholly or partly cutting out animal products worry about.
The main concern is that essential nutrients like iron and calcium may end up lacking in a plant based diet. However, this is a bit of a myth. Foodstuffs such as dark green leafy vegetables like bak choi, cabbage and broccoli all contain high levels of calcium and the same goes for spinach which is also power packed with iron. Similarly, soy beans and soy proteins such as Tofu all contain high amounts of both these minerals, are an excellent replacement for those who really miss meat and can be combined with herbs, spices and sauces to change both it’s flavour and texture.
Good sources of protein for vegetarians are nuts. Almonds, cashews, peanuts and walnuts can all either be used in baking or in savoury dishes to add taste, crunch and a boot of essential fats, vitamins and minerals that will keep you filled up and full of energy.
Another concern is that vegetarians may also be missing out on essential fatty acids, like the omega oils three, six and nine. Again, these can easily be included in the diet by either taking a flax seed supplement or including flax seeds into a vegetarian eating programme, by sprinkling a tablespoon so of them into salads, main dishes or even into fruit smoothies and milkshakes for added crunch and texture. Dressings can be made with flax seed oil and it can also be used in the cooking of healthy stir fry dishes, too.
On the menu at The Duke’s Alehouse and Kitchen there are a great selection of vegetarian starters and main courses available. Choosing a dish such as Spinach and Artichoke Dip is a great way to ensure you are on your way to getting the right amount of iron in your diet, as well as calcium. Choosing to eat a Veggie Burger from the menu will provide you with plenty of slow-release energy from the oats and sweet potato in there, plus the added benefits of fiber from the pinto beans and the fiery metabolism kicking punch of the jalapeno peppers. You definitely will not feel like you’re missing out on meat by trying one of these dishes.
The health benefits of vegetarianism
Reducing the amount of meat we eat, or cutting it out completely can have very positive health benefits for humans. Not only can it help to cut incidences of heart disease, cancer and stroke, but it can also help to reduce blood pressure, blood sugar and aid in the battle to maintain healthy weight loss. By introducing more fresh fruit and vegetables into the diet we also dramatically increase the amounts of vitamins and minerals we take in, not to mention the uptake of dietary fiber which aids healthy digestion.
Of particular interest is a group of people who live in the town of Okinawa in Japan. Their diet relies solely on complex carbohydrates, plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables and soy products. They eat no meat at all and have one of the highest populations of centenarians in the world. Coupled with this is one of the lowest mortality rates and one of the highest “health expectancy” rates in the world, as well, all from eating a sensible, low fat, vegetarian diet.
Generally, a vegetarian diet which is low in fat and high in fiber really helps to aid in the fight against illness, which ultimately results in fewer visits to the GP practice and less reliance on prescription medications and online pharmacy orders for drugs to combat medical conditions. Think about joining us for Meatless Monday, having one of your own at home, or even gradually making the transition to becoming fully veggie. For more information on why it’s good to switch to this diet and the many health benefits that follow, you can read here.