So have I convinced you (this is speaking to meat-eaters) to give Meatless Mondays a try? Maybe this post will help confirm your decision. Let’s get down to discussing how to turn your Mondays into one of the best days of the week.
You may wonder why the Bloomberg Johns Hopkins School of Public Health chose Monday for their meatless initiative. I mean, how many people really look forward to Mondays, those long dreaded days that head the often long, dreaded work week. But this makes Monday even more of an appropriate choice. As quoted on the initiatives site, “On Monday we move from the freedom of the weekend back to the structure of work or school. We set our intentions for the next six days. We plan ahead and evaluate progress.” Monday is the perfect day to plan a week filled with healthy intentions and actually fulfill some of these intentions right from the start. Every Monday, you have the opportunity to feed your body with nutrient-rich foods, sizzle away that bad cholesterol, and set yourself on a path for a healthy, energizing remainder of the week.
As nice as this sounds, let’s get real and give you some ways to actually motivate yourself to do this for your body.
Start by picking up some new gear. Just like picking out new flashy workout clothes can make you actually want to hit the gym, getting some plant-based gear will help motivate you to want to get down with some meat-free food. First, consider purchasing some new cookbooks. While pictures aren’t always indicative of the quality of a cookbook, I recommend choosing cookbooks that do contain at least a few photos. These mouth-watering photos will make you want to get in the kitchen and recreate that photographic food so you can stop drooling and start chewing. There are tons of great cookbooks out there. Some cookbooks I recommend: Alicia Silverstone’s The Kind Diet, one of Moosewood‘s 11 cookbooks (these will sometimes lack pictures, but the recipes are almost always wonderful), or the Conscious Cook. If you’re not sure in investing in a cookbook, how about picking up the latest issue of Vegetarian Times? These magazines are always loaded with great pictures, recipes, and interesting facts.
Next, hit the grocery store and pick out some ingredients you might not normally work with. New ingredients are like uncharted territory–fun, exciting, intriguing. Once you open your eyes to the aisles and shelves in the grocery store you probably often skip, you’ll see that vegetarian diets are in no way limited. There are hundreds of varieties of beans, grains, nuts, and veggies that can be put together to create something magnificent. Pick one new ingredient to feature, and then consider looking it up in the index of one of your new cookbooks or searching for a recipe online. Start to get your mind exciting about trying something new…consider yourself an adventurist.
Choose recipes that are hearty. Don’t ease your way into becoming a vegetarian by filling your plate solely with vegetables. This will most likely leave you with a sour taste in your mouth of vegetarianism and a rumbling, unsatisfied stomach. Beans and grains, naturally loaded with fiber, can actually be really filling and are extremely versatile. If you find yourself really craving meat, or something with that nice, chewy texture, consider utilizing a meat substitute, such as tofu or seitan, to replace the typical slab of meat-protein on your plate.
Make sure to include food you’re familiar with. Try not to turn your plate into another planet. Instead, stick with featuring one new, maybe exotic food, and keep the rest of your plate filled with things in which you’re more comfortable. This way you’re guaranteed to have something on the plate you’ll like, even if the new dish turns out to be a flop.
The most important thing to keep in mind in order to succesfully conquer Meatless Mondays and start looking forward to the first day of your weeks is to keep an open-mind and positive attitude. If you start off cooking your Monday lunch thinking it’s going to taste like crap, then it will probably taste like crap, no matter how tasty it may actually be. Instead, let yourself be open to the idea that meat-free meals can actually be just as delicious, if not more, than meals that center around meat. Allow yourself to have fun, and dont’ be afraid to experiment. Become a scientist…if your first experiment fails, try a new one. There are tons and tons of experiments (recipes) in which you can choose. How about starting your monday with a vegetarian dish fit for the president? Check out the Obamas’ personal chef’s sweet potato and greens recipe to get you started, a sure-fire way to get you to like those greens.