The “Meatless Mondays” initiative has been around for a while and as you might have guessed, its messaging is anchored around making a commitment to have meals throughout the day that are absent of meat.
Two of the big drivers behind a meatless day are the health benefits to be gained from eating less meat (which almost by default means eating more vegetables) and the environmental benefits derived from reduced animal agriculture.
Both of these make it easy to want to jump on the bandwagon. More recently I was introduced to the idea of a meat-less day, which is a fun play on the existing approach. It doesn’t require you to avoid meat altogether, but instead involves simply making a conscious choice to eat less of it.
The meatless and meat-less options both offer similar benefits, but it’s usually not the benefits that present the pitfalls when we are trying to make changes in our diets. We tend to get caught up on what we can’t have, which makes everything we do more challenging.
When you can’t have that perfectly marbled rib-eye this week, you probably want it twice as much next week. The rib-eye becomes the focus, which isn’t where we want our attention to be. We want it to be on eating more vegetables and there’s a simple and proven dietary technique called “crowding out” that can help you achieve this. With crowding out, you can still have a small portion of meat, but you focus on adding more vegetables to your plate, shifting the attention away from what you are having less of. You’re getting more vegetables and less meat. It’s that easy!
Here are some tips that work well for crowding out and will make next Meat-less (or Meatless) Monday a breeze.
Start lunch and/or dinner off with a large salad.
Have a vegetable-based soup! It’s perfect for a Monday meal.
Get as many colours on your plate as possible.
Choose vegetables that you really enjoy.
Replacing something you love with something that you don’t is not going to work long-term.
Eating healthily is as enjoyable as you make it so don’t get caught up on what you shouldn’t eat next Monday. Instead, focus on how you can get more vegetables onto your plate.
Kevin Grzybouski is a wellness coach and the chef/owner of Wholesome, a plant-based meal service.