Meatless Monday Made Easy

I was planning on featuring this one just before the Thanksgiving holiday, as some of recipes below will make for fun side dishes but I couldn't resist the timing. As many of you know, I just returned from a two-week trip through Portugal and Spain where they eat their fair share of meat. Honestly, I don't think I've ever eaten so many forms of cow, pig, lamb, chicken and seafood. I had cured meats, roasted meats, seared meats, raw meat and grilled meat— every type of meat you could imagine. Meat, meat and more meat.

Upon my return, meat was the last thing I could think about when it came to eating, so I welcomed my girlfriend Sara's recommendations that I take a break from meat and enjoy "Meatless Mondays."

I'll let Sara tell you why she began practicing meatless mondays, and what's helped her stick to it. I hope you enjoy these recipes as much as we both do.

Meatless Mondays:
About a year ago, I made the decision to practice "meatless Mondays". Why?  Because of the benefits to both my health and the environment.  By going meatless one day a week, you can reduce your risk of chronic preventable conditions such as cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and obesity.  You can also reduce your carbon footprint and the negative impact that a high animal protein diet has on the environment.

While one’s health and the environment are substantial reasons, the third and most inspiring reason I chose to go meatless on Mondays was so I'd be forced to get creative with vegetarian recipes. My goal was to make Mondays a day to experiment and to eat better. I didn't want to just eat cheese pizza, quesadillas, and pasta. This was going to be a great opportunity to highlight grains, beans, and the amazing produce that changes each season.

As a result, I have cooked some awesome dishes that I may not have been inclined to make otherwise.  Additionally, I've found that by starting the week off right, I eat better the rest of the week. Meatless Mondays are not meant to be punishing; they are meant to encourage exploration and preparation of all the dishes that get pushed to the side when we focus on animal protein.

Give it a go and let us know what you think!

Here are some recipes to get you started:

Shaved zucchini salad with parmesan pine nuts
Autumn farmer's market salad
Cauliflower, white bean, and feta salad
Farfalle with golden beets, beet greens, and pine nuts
Quinoa with black beans and cilantro

Signing Off Giving Meat a Much Needed Break,
Renee & Sara

 

Renee Woodruff blogs about travel, food and living life to the fullest on Shape.com. Follow her on Twitter or see what she's up to on Facebook!

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