HOW TO BE A MONDAY VEGETARIAN
I imagine some people want to go without meat on Mondays but are unsure how to do it. As a mostly vegetarian (I eat fish sometimes), I remember what it was like to make the switch. I still encounter meat eaters who seem shocked that I don’t eat meat. A common question is: “But what do you eat?” I am offering a brief introduction to meatless eating that should be sufficient for a “One-Day-A-Week Vegetarian”.
*Some enthusiasts in the Meatless Monday movement are advocating for a “pure vegetarian” Monday menu, that is a vegan diet excluding eggs and dairy products. The Canadian website offers vegan recipes; the American site includes recipes with eggs and cheese. This is a discovery I made while preparing this blog. I have included milk, cheese, and eggs as possible options, but these may be excluded if you choose.
HOW MUCH PROTEIN IS ENOUGH?
When I started eating vegetarian, I thought you had to concern yourself with proper protein combinations, such as rice and beans, or wheat and cheese. The theory was that plant proteins were not useful to the human body unless combined in the correct way. This idea is now being dismissed, and the current wisdom is that while eating protein is necessary, we don’t need to worry about getting enough— in fact, many people consume too much. We are told that as long as we have a balanced diet as suggested by the Canada Food Guide and US Food Guide Pyramid, we’ll be properly nourished.
WHAT ARE NON-MEAT PROTEINS?
It makes sense to have some protein in each meal. You’ll feel energized—perhaps even more than after eating meat (that’s how I got into being a vegetarian). Following are foods that are rich in proteins:
- Milk, cheese, yogurt
- SEEDS–try sesame seeds whole or ground, sesame seed butter (“tahini”), sunflower seeds, hemp seeds whole or ground, pumpkin seeds whole or ground
- NUTS–try almonds, walnuts, cashews, and nut butters, in moderation
- BEANS and LENTILS–try black beans, chick peas, kidney beans, white beans, great northern beans, pinto beans, mung beans, black-eyed peas, red or brown lentils, split peas, etc.
- SOY PRODUCTS, such as tofu, hot dogs, soy milk, and tempeh, etc. (in moderation)
PLANNING HEALTHY MEATLESS MENUS
Planning healthy menus for Meatless Monday is easy. Simply follow basic nutritional principles, including each important food group—GRAINS, VEGETABLES, FRUITS, MILK OR ALTERNATIVES and VEG PROTEIN.
BREAKFAST—Get started on the right foot with a nutritious breakfast. Unless you don’t eat eggs, French toast or a vegetable omelette are options. Alternatively, try a milk or soy milk smoothy, cereal with a sprinkling of nuts and fruit, or toast spread with peanut butter or tahini (I’m a tahini fan).
LUNCH— A simple lunch menu can be:
- a vegetable soup (there are many different kinds),
- salad or raw vegetable sticks, plus
- a sandwich with tahini or nut butter, cheese and lettuce, egg salad (if you didn’t have eggs for breakfast), seasoned tofu or tempeh, or a bean spread such as “hummus” (a chickpea spread–easy to find with dips at the grocery store)
DINNER—The final meal! There are of course thousands of vegetarian main course options, but here are a few ideas to help you get started:
- Vegetable lasagna
- Vegetable spaghetti–try including beans or textured vegetable protein (TVP), a soy product, in the sauce
- Bean burgers (see Sweet Potato Black Bean Burgers recipe) with soup or salad
- Chickpeas fried in garlic, onion, and spices with brown rice and steamed greens.
- Steamed cheese perogies, fried with onions and mushrooms, served with sour cream and vegetables, such as boiled carrots, peas, spinach or broccoli.
GOOD LUCK LAUNCHING INTO MEATLESS EATING ! Following are some resources: