Swap It Out, Going Meat Free For Lunch

Meat free Monday is a global phenomen and people all over the world have been opting for a 'flexitarian' lifestyle due to its wellness benefits. But just what are the benefits of reducing animal products and turning to meet free alternatives?

Should I swap meat for plant-based alternatives at lunchtime?

Here’s some facts that might persuade you to do just this:

  • Heart health

Research published in 2019 found diets higher in plant foods and lower in animal foods were associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular morbidity and mortality in a general population.

Therefore, by simply reducing the amount of meat consumed rather than cutting it out completely can reduce the risk of heart disease.

  • Cutting Cholesterol levels

LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol is ‘bad’ cholesterol. Replacing animal proteins with plant proteins every day such as nuts, pulses, beans, lentils, soy and chickpeas could lead to a reduction in cholesterol. A study carried out concluded that: after 4 weeks, the participants eating the plant-based diet, rich in nutrients and phytochemicals, reduced their total and LDL cholesterol significantly more than the participants consuming a standard low-fat diet.

  • Curbing cancer

There is no direct evidence that following a vegan diet reduces the risk of developing cancer. However, there are many characteristics of a healthy vegan diet that align with Cancer Prevention Recommendations – such as eating lots of wholegrains, pulses, fruit and vegetables, and avoiding red and processed meat.

This is not only because plant-based foods contain fibre, which protects against bowel cancer, but including more plant-based food in the diet can also help people to maintain a healthy weight. 

The general recommended intake of fruit and vegetables is at least 400g per day or five servings of 80g. One 80g serving is approximately the size of a tennis ball or measured using 1 cup.

  • Protect the planet

The world health organisation reports that if the world cut its meat intake to a ”healthy”(100 calories) it could save 15 gigatonnes of CO2 in 2050.

Livestock produces more greenhouse gas requires more water (1850 gallons per pound of beef) and takes up more fossil fuels than vegetables and grains. By eating less meat you’ll reduce your carbon footprint. Did you also know that 70% of deforested areas in the Amazon rainforest have been replaced with pasture land for animal grazing?

  • Tantalisingly tasty

Just because their meat free doesn’t mean lunch has to be taste free.

One of them main challenges of eating meat free is to make sure you’re getting enough protein at every meal. By adding beans, tofu, tempeh, quinoa, lentils or nuts to your meal will give you a protein boost and keep you fuller for longer.

If you’re choosing cheese make sure you use a mature Cheddar with a strong flavour so you can enjoy the taste without consuming a large amount.

If you’re sticking to a sandwich opt for a wholegrain seeded bread which may include avocado, rockets and tomato or grilled Mediterranean vegetables with hummus.

If you’re opting for a fresh salad try to include at least five varieties such as dark green leaves, tomatoes, radishes, peppers, olives, beetroot, broccoli etc and always include good lean protein keep your dressing simple a drizzle of vinegar and olive oil or lemon you could make this at home and keep in a pot to pour over.

Perhaps you could switch to a healthy sweet potato as opposed to a jacket potato that has a high glycaemic index and therefore releases sugar quickly although this will satisfy your hunger short-term you will be feeling hungry once the blood sugars remove.

A quick note here: if you feel it’s necessary, it’s always okay to check with a doctor before trying a new meal plan.