Food for Thought
Meatless Mondays for healthy, sustainable nutrition.
Building your diet around low GI plant foods such as wholegrains, legumes, vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds gives you all the nutrients you need for long-term health and wellbeing along with plenty of protective antioxidants and phyto-chemicals. Not only that, there’s a wealth of evidence to support the fact that eating a vegetarian diet can reduce the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and cancer.
Back in November, Fiona Atkinson asked GI guru Prof David Jenkins about the benefits of going meatless? ‘I think the benefits are basically, on an humanitarian perspective,’ he said. ‘I used to put that as a sort of rider at the end but I think now it’s becoming the first issue as human beings. Second, I think one has to think of the environmental issues. They always say it’s a ten to one ratio for plant-based diet versus an animal -based diet in terms of land consumption, water usage, which is obviously a problem in many places, and basically environmental impact and environmental degradation. We can not afford to have the whole planet geared to feeding cattle that feed us, this seems to be an insanity that we accept because it’s palatable. I think those are really strong reasons. I think that if one is sensible and one watches B12 and one’s diet, one can live very well on a vegetarian or vegan diet.’
For those of us who don’t want to go all the way, there’s the low GI Meatless Mondays option. This is simply making a commitment to going without meat one day a week for your and the planet’s health. Where did the idea come from? It actually goes back nearly 100 years … We turned to the US Meatless Monday organisation for some background and discovered that during World War I, the US Food Administration urged families to reduce consumption of key staples to aid the war effort. The message was ‘Food Will Win the War’ and Meatless Monday and Wheatless Wednesday were introduced to encourage people to do their bit. The Food Administration (spearheaded by Herbert Hoover), published and distributed recipe booklets and menus. The effect was overwhelming according to Meatless Mondays. ‘Some 10 million families, 7000 hotels and nearly 425,000 food dealers pledged to observe national meatless days. In November 1917, New York City hotels saved some 116 tons of meat over the course of just one week.’
In 2003, the Meatless Monday message was revived by health advocate Sid Lerner, backed by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health’s Center for a Livable Future and endorsed by 30 schools of public health. It’s now a global movement.
In the UK, Sir Paul, Stella and Mary McCartney launched the Meat Free Monday campaign in 2009. Going meatless on Mondays is a ‘fun challenge with an achievable goal that will bring many benefits, whilst providing you with the opportunity to broaden your culinary horizon along the way,’ they write in the introduction to The Meat Free Monday Cookbook. And you can listen to Paul singing all about it HERE.
For more information on Meatless Mondays, check out:
To inspire you, we’ll be publishing a low GI Meatless Monday recipe every month. For recipes from vegetarian and vegan books we have previously reviewed in GI News, check out:
- Prof Jennie Brand-Miller’s The Low GI Vegetarian Cookbook
- New York Times best-seller Forks Over Knives
- Dr Neal Barnard’s Program for Reversing Diabetes