For about 7 1/2 years I was a vegetarian, and it was primarily because I was deathly afraid of food-born illnesses and bacteria. I started eating meat again near the end of college, and I've recently been reconsidering this choice. The last month or so I've taken the meatless Monday challenge a bit further and gone without meat during the week but eating meat on the weekends. This time my reasons were more environmental and overall health focused. I still get plenty of protein through hard-boiled eggs and beans, and I've been trying to buy organic veggies for my recipes to reduce the exposure to harmful pesticides used to grow conventional veggies.
Whether it's meatless Monday, totally Vegged-out Tuesday, without meat Wednesday, or sans-meat Saturday the single day vegetarian movement is growing faster then ever. Why would you want to skip one day eating meat? Well, 1 calorie of meat uses significantly more natural resources then 1 calorie of veggies/fruits.
There are other important reasons as well, such as overall health. There is a correlation with decreased overall health and high consumption of meat. The decrease in overall health is caused by things such as obesity, high blood pressure, heart disease, and cancer. It's still not clear whether the meat is to blame or it's the lack of veggies since so much more of the American plate is taken up by protein. Additionally, there is a correlation of those who eat a plant based diet and overall better health. Vegetables and fruits are packed with nutrients and minerals.
So, how do you get started? Well, if you are currently a heavy meat eater, then try just one meal without meat. You will get to try out tons of new recipes! Once you can handle one meal, then try a whole day. The meatless monday link above has some great recipes. It's summer time and the best time to try new vegetables from the local farmer's market!
This is an investment in overall health and wellbeing that will payoff for not only you but also your family. I'm looking forward to sharing healthy eating habits with my children just as my mother passed on to me.