Health

Benefits of going meatless once a week

BY JO-HANNA TAYLOR

Sunday, March 11, 2018

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THE months are flying by so quickly! We are in March: Month three for 12 Months 24 Dares — the wellness initiative that uses the support of community to help people create and stick to healthy habits.

The fitness-based dare for March has the subscribers (dare-ees) putting aside 10-15 minutes each day to do some abdominal exercises for our AB challenge.

The nutritional dare is participating in 'Meatless Monday' with the added challenge (double dare) of going 'meatless' for the month.

I can already see many individuals shaking their heads: A day without my pork? No chicken? No bacon? What will I eat? Are they insane?

What is Meatless Monday?

Meatless Monday is a global movement with a simple message: Once a week, cut the meat. This means having plant-based/vegetarian options on your Mondays for better health and a better environment.

Jamaica became a part of this global initiative in 2011 through Kingston Kitchen, a food-style company run by 'Juicy Chef' Jacqui Sinclair. Her mission? 'Focus on healthy eating and making vegetables sexy again'.

Is Meatless Monday good for your health?

Traditionally, research into vegetarianism focused mainly on potential nutritional deficiencies, but in recent years, 'times are a changing' with studies confirming the health benefits of meat-free eating.

Nowadays plant-based eating is recognised as nutritionally sufficient and a way to reduce the risk for many chronic illnesses. According to the American Dietetic Association, “Appropriately planned vegetarian diets, including total vegetarian or vegan diets, are healthy, nutritionally adequate, and may provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases.”

Benefits

Just having one day of plant-based food can be transformative to your health. Some benefits include:

1. Lower and prevent chronic illnesses

A Harvard study found that a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, 2.5 or more servings of whole grain per day, was associated with a 21 per cent lower risk of cardiovascular disease (heart disease, stroke, fatal cardiovascular disease). There is also suggestive evidence that red meat increases the risk of oesophagus, lung, pancreas, and endometrium cancer, and that processed meat consumption increases the risk of oesophagus, lung, stomach, and prostate cancer. In contrast, a diet rich in fruitS and vegetables decreases the risk of several types of cancers, including: mouth, pharynx, larynx, oesophagus, and stomach.

2. Rest the system

Overwhelming studies show giving your system a break from animal protein can actually help restore and repair the body's digestive system and help boost the natural detox and digestion process.

3. Energy Boost

Breaking down animal protein requires a lot of energy, hence removing animal protein once a week essentially allows the digestive system to fully break down what's put in, giving you a sense of lightness and vitality.

4. Nutrition boost

Going meatless at least once a week encourages consumption of plant-based sources of protein, like beans and peas. Consuming beans and peas results in a higher intake of fibre, protein, folate, zinc, iron, and magnesium. Also, diets high in beans and peas are associated with lower intakes of saturated fat and total fat.

Change is hard, but once you realise it's not about removing meat from your plate but having a fulfilling meal and life, you will put more thought into planning more satisfying and creative meals.

Find recipes online and don't be afraid to ask restaurants if they have meatless options. Who knows, you might want to do more meatless days than Monday.

Be sure to accept the challenge of Meatless Mondays and you can always join the movement for recipes! Email us at 12months24dares@gmail.com or follow us on Instagram and/or Facebook using the handle 12months24dares.

Jo-Hanna Taylor is the wellness coordinator of 12 Months 24 Dares. She is an internationally certified America Council of Exercise Personal Trainer, Group fitness instructor and Power Vinyasa 200YT Yoga Instructor.

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