Hasta La Vista, Hamburger: Make Room For Meatless Monday!

Remember that episode of Friends when Ross and Rachel were “on a break” but actually kind of weren’t? Basically, Ross got a little “frisky” with someone else, shifting things from “break” to breakup real quick once Rachel found out. Well, lucky for you, meat will have no idea that you’re engaging in some plant-based promiscuity!
That’s right, today were making the case for “Meatless Monday” and diving into the benefits of taking a weekly break from beef. After all it is 2019 – who says you can’t dabble in an open relationship with animal products and plant proteins! We fully support your foodie freedom, and have the facts to backup your weekly animal-free affair. Plus, we’re throwing in a few meatless meal ideas for the curious carnivores who could use some kitchen-spiration to get started. Who’s ready to turnip the beet (veggie jokes…basically a PETA-approved dad joke) and chill on the meat??

Hear out the Herbivore
We all know that vegetarian. You know the one. It’s like they discovered their voice once they gave up meat, kind of like when the Little Mermaid discovered her feet when she gave up her voice (go figure). The only problem with the boisterous veg-head is they just never seem to shut-up…”You realize that everytime you consume an animal product, a kitten explodes and a fairy turns into a frog, and…” so on and so forth. We know their heart and their head is in the right place, but sometimes the plant propaganda has a way of leaving a bad taste in the mouth of the meat-lovin’ members of society. Unfortunately, because of this, many animal-eating aficionados never end up giving vegetarian meals a fair shot strictly out of principle (and sheer pigheadedness, pun intended). However, all foodie philosophy aside, there are some SERIOUS benefits to cutting back on meat consumption.

It’s a Plant Powered Health Hookup
From your waistline to your heart, and just about everything in between, you’ll relish in a serious whole body boost by implementing a carnivore cut back. Global research on red meat consumption has shown a significant link between high consumption of the animal proteins and cancer, with a particularly high occurrence of colorectal and stomach cancers. On top of that, when red meat makes a regular appearance in your diet, your gut actually begins to produce more of a chemical known as trimethylamine N-oxide (TMAO), which is produced when your intestinal bacteria work to break down the animal protein. When you mix a dash of TMAO with a splash of the high levels of saturated fats that are found in red and processed meats, you’ve just developed the perfect recipe for high LDL cholesterol (the bad kind), heart disease, stroke, and even Type II diabetes.

A quick synopsis from Harvard School of Public Health: eating unprocessed and processed meat increased mortality rates between 13-20% in a study that examined the diets of 121,000 people. Umm, so do you want to finish my pastrami sub? Because I think I’m good….

Another bonus to throwing a “Bye Felicia” at beef? It does a bikini bod some serious good. Meat sources of protein are typically higher in calories, so a veggie veto on burger night already packs some pooch-melting prowess. Another bonus? With plant protein sources, you’ll typically get a good dose of fiber, a fit fix that’ll keep you feeling full longer. At this point, we’re guessing we’ve won a vote for team veg. For meats sake – oh wait, we mean pete’s (gotcha with another veg-friendly dad joke), it’s just one day as an herbivore! But we’ve got a few more reasons to give “ghosting” meat a go!

Beefless Ballin’ on a Budget
A huge selling point for the animal eaters is that their diet is a more cost-effective way to get your protein in. However, unless you’re constantly stopping into that hipster-chic vegan restaurant with menu items like “Unicorn Goddess Raw Vegan Hypoallergenic Fairy Dust Bowl”, or shopping for the most expensive processed meat alternatives from your go to health store, you could reduce your protein budget big time by going meatless for a day.
Let’s take the average cost of a chicken breast for example, one of these bird bosoms will set you back about $5 a pound and packs in about 24 grams of protein. Now, if you were to swap that out with a single can of black beans, which boasts the protein equivalent to the chicken, you’ll only be out a single dollar! If you’re looking to maximize your mullah, then going meat free for a day is MAJOR KEY.

Go Green or Go Home
Tired of perpetually disappointing your mother? No, we don’t mean your actual mother (although she does wish you’d call more often, just saying). We’re talking about Mother Earth. This pretty little planet we call home can benefit big time from a single day sans-meat.

One study found that meat mavens produce 50% more greenhouse gas emissions than our vegetarian friends, and 100% more than vegans. That means, the meat eaters are essentially walking with led-soled Timberlands when they’re leaving their carbon footprint. Yikes.
Other eco-fabulous facts that favor a meat-free lifestyle include reduced animal-waste runoff, groundwater pollution, and loss of sensitive natural land to farming – the number one cause of mass endangered wildlife extinction. Think of meatless Monday like your contribution to Earth’s tip jar, just a little something to say good job big blue – we appreciate you. Afterall, this is a pretty beautiful place to call home (way better than Mars or Jupiter, or any of those other planets).

Meat Free Munchies
We’re hoping that even the biggest meat moguls are at least contemplating the idea of a eating a days worth of meatless meals once a week. However, if the info above hasn’t gotten you totally on the beefless board, we thought we’d entice you with a few tasty vegetarian meal ideas to get you started. You’ll be racing to the kitchen to get jiggy sans-piggy (we had to get in one more veg-friendly dad joke #sorrynotsorry)!

Thai Peanut Ginger Stir Fry
Stir Fry Ingredients
2 tbs of coconut oil
1 yellow onion
1 zucchini
2 cups of broccoli florets
1 cup of chopped carrots
2 cups of mushrooms
1 block of extra firm tofu – 12.5 oz (optional)

Peanut Ginger Sauce Ingredients
1/4 cup of natural peanut butter
2 tbsp of soy sauce or liquid aminos
2 tbsp of water
1 tbsp of brown sugar
1 tsp of sesame oil
1/2 tsp of red pepper flakes (optional)
1-2 tbsp of sriracha sauce (if you like it extra spicy)
1 tsp of ground ginger

1. Prepare the tofu: remove from package & drain all water. Then, place tofu between two paper towels and two plates. Place a heavy item like a can on the top plate. Press for at least 20-30 minutes.
2. Cut the pressed tofu into 1/2 inch cubes.
3. Mix together all of the peanut ginger sauce ingredients, and set aside.
4. Heat 1 tablespoon of coconut oil in a pan over medium heat. Add the vegetables and cook until the ingredients are slightly tender. Remove from pan and set aside.
5. Heat another 1 tablespoon coconut oil in the pan. Add the tofu cubes and cook until golden on all sides (usually about 15 minutes).
6. Pour peanut ginger sauce over the tofu. Remove from heat, add in the cooked veggies, and toss to coat. Serve this up with cooked brown rice, quinoa, cauliflower rice, or more veggies!

Lentil Taco Bowl with Avocado Salsa
Taco Filling Ingredients
1 tbsp of olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
3 cups of cooked brown lentils
3/4 cup of finely chopped walnuts
1 tbsp of liquid aminos
1/2 tsp of liquid smoke
1 1/2 tbsp of ground cumin
1 1/2 tsp of chile powder
1/4 tsp of cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp of black pepper or lemon pepper
1/3 cup of tomato sauce
Pinch of salt (to taste)

Avocado Salsa Ingredients
3 large ripe avocados
1 pint of cherry tomatoes, quartered
1 cup of chopped red onion (about 1 small onion)
½ cup of finely chopped fresh cilantro
1 to 2 medium jalapeños, seeded and minced (if sensitive to spice, use just 1 or omit)
¼ cup of lime juice (from 1 to 2 limes)
1 tsp of salt

For Taco Filling:
1. Coat the bottom of a large skillet with oil and place it over medium heat. Once the oil is hot, add the onion and sauté until translucent – about 5 minutes.
2. Add the garlic and sauté 1 minute more, until very fragrant.
3. Add the lentils, walnuts, soy sauce, liquid smoke, cumin, ancho chile powder, cayenne pepper, and black pepper to the skillet. Cook until the mixture dries up a bit – about 5 minutes, flipping occasionally and very gently with a spatula.
4. Add the tomato sauce and cook about 2 minutes more. Season with salt to taste if desired.
For Avocado Salsa:
1. Combine all of the ingredients and toss gently (don’t over mix/mash-you want the avocado to stay chunky!)
To Serve Up Your Taco Bowl:
1. Serve on top of brown rice, cooked spaghetti squash, quinoa, cauliflower rice, or a bed of greens with a layer of shredded lettuce and/or shredded cabbage.
2. Top with the lentil taco meat, avocado salsa, and your choice of taco-style toppings (diced onion, tomatoes, cilantro, and a squeeze of lime).

Pumpkin Chili
1 green pepper, diced
1 onion, diced
1 carrot, chopped
1 tbsp of chili powder
1 tbsp of cumin
1 tsp of cinnamon
1 tsp of garlic powder
1 tsp of onion powder
1 (15oz) canned pumpkin puree (not the pie filling)
1 (15oz) can of pinto beans, not drained
1 (15oz) can of black beans, not drained
1 (15oz) can of kidney beans, not drained
1 (28oz) can of diced tomatoes, not drained
Salt and pepper, to taste
Olive oil

1. In a large soup pot – cook the green pepper, onion, carrot, and garlic in a small amount of olive oil.
2. Sprinkle the chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, onion powder, cinnamon, salt and pepper over the veggies as they cook.
3. Once the vegetables are tender, add in the pumpkin puree, undrained beans, and the tomatoes. Cover and simmer for at least 30 minutes until ready to eat!
4. Serve with diced yellow and green onion and your favorite vegan cheese!