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Meatless Mondays & the Health Benefits of a Meatless Diet

Author: Cara Walsh

May 05, 2014

Meatless Mondays & the Health Benefits of a Meatless Diet

Author: Cara Walsh

May 05, 2014

Meatless Mondays is a new movement that inspires those who eat meat (including chicken, fish and red meat), to go meatless for one day a week. There are countless positives to eating meatless—for both environmental and health reasons. This movement is popping up in restaurants, schools and houses all across the world.

At first it may seem that there are limited options regarding healthy, low carbohydrate, low calorie meal options. However, with a little investigating, it is not difficult to find some great, delicious, healthy meatless recipes to fit anyone’s palate. If on the 5&1 weight loss plan of your Medifast diet, try making an egg omelet or a veggie burger for dinner. If in the weight maintenance part of the program, experiment with different beans and legumes to get your protein in the evening. And most importantly, remember that meatless does not have to mean a calorie laden casserole, pasta dish or veggie pizza. It can be light, healthy and satisfying while still containing no meat products.

The health benefits of a meatless diet are numerous.

  1. It can lower your risk for cancer. Studies show that a diet high in fruits and vegetables may reduce incidence of cancer. Conversely, diets high in red and processed meats are associated with colon cancer.
  2. Reduce the risk of heart disease. There is a strong link between high intake of red meat and risk of heart attack. Eliminating red meat just one day per week can decrease those odds. Substituting foods high in saturated fats (red meat and full fat dairy), for unsaturated fats (vegetables oils and nuts) will reduce the risk of heart disease.
  3. Weight maintenance: Countless studies have shown that individuals who consume little or no meat have lower body weights than those who consume meat on a regular basis.
  4. It adds variety to your diet. By following a meatless diet one time per week, you are forcing yourself to experiment with different protein options. Consuming vegetarian protein options such as beans will provide fiber, folate, zinc, iron and magnesium. As well as lower intake of saturated fat and total fat.

The environmental benefits of a meatless diet one time per week are astonishing.

  1. It will reduce your carbon footprint. The meat industry generates almost 1/5 of the man-made greenhouse gas emissions. This is an even larger impact than transportation. Reducing meat consumption, even just one time per week, will greatly diminish this problem.
  2. Decrease water usage. Livestock needs much more water to produce than any vegetable or grain. 1,800-2,500 gallons of water are used to make one pound of beef. Tofu, derived from soy protein, only needs 220 gallons of water per pound to produce.
  3. Reduce fossil fuel dependence. About 40 calories of fossil fuel energy is needed for every calorie of feed lot beef. However, plant based proteins need only 2.2 calories of fossil fuel energy.

Did you know? With one vegan meal…

You save about 2,500 gallons of water. Replacing just 4 ounces of beef with one vegan meals saves about 2,500 gallons of water which helps to alleviate water shortages.

You save about 16 pounds of grain. It takes about 16 pounds of grain to produce one pound of beef. We can use that grain to stop world hunger.

You save money and your health. Veganism can extend your life expectancy by several years, as well as lower your risk of heart disease, cancer, dementia and other chronic diseases. As a result, you will likely see reduced cost in healthcare expenses.


Try the following Meatless Monday recipe for a delicious taco salad without the guilt of actual taco meat!

Taco Salad Recipe


  • Romaine lettuce (1 large head)
  • Tomato (2)
  • Avocado (1)
  • Black beans (1 can)
  • Corn (1 can)
  • Tortilla chips (about 12)
  • Salsa
  • Plain Greek yogurt (substitute for sour cream)
  • Optional: black olives or jalapenos.


  1. Wash produce. Chop lettuce, tomato and avocado and place in 2 large bowls.
  2. Drain liquid from corn and black beans. Rinse once to eliminate 40% excess sodium. Add ½ cup black beans and ½ cup corn to each salad.
  3. Crunch about 6 chips on top of the salads and add salsa and Greek yogurt in desired amounts.

Makes 2 servings.

Note: This meal is not appropriate for the 5&1 weight loss part of the program. Feel free to utilize this recipe once in the maintenance phase of the program.

About the Author:

Cara Walsh
Counselor at The Carmel Mountain Ranch Medifast Weight Control Center
Cara Walsh is a Registered Dietitian and Certified Weight Control Counselor. Cara received her bachelor’s degree in Nutritional Science from San Diego State University and completed her dietetic internship to become a registered dietitian through the Utah State University. Cara is currently completing her Masters in Dietetic Administration through Utah State University. Cara has always had a passion for healthy eating and cooking. She loves to focus on how food can heal and provide nutrition-while tasting delicious. Cara thrives on helping others reach their full potential nutritionally. In her spare time she enjoys reading, going to Pilates and running the boardwalk on the Pacific Ocean with her son and husband.

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