If you have ever perused social media on a Monday, you may have seen the hashtag #meatlessmonday next to a vibrant vegetarian dish. But this phenomena of not eating meat on Mondays predates the invention of hashtags.
In 2003, a nonprofit initiative of the Monday Campaigns in collaboration with the Center of a Livable Future (CLF) at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health launched ‘Meatless Mondays.’ Its goal was to reduce meat consumption by 15 percent for health and environmental reasons.
Research has shown that lowering the amount of meat you eat can resume the risk of cancer, heart disease, diabetes and obesity. Not only is cutting out meat once a week beneficial to your health, but also could greatly help the environment. The meat industry contributes nearly one-fifth of human-made greenhouse gas emissions, according to the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization. Also, livestock require much more water than fruits and vegetables do. Eating less meat cuts down the need for production, thus reducing those greenhouse gases and saving water.
For some people, cutting out meat for a day is quite difficult — a meal is simply just not complete without an animal protein. But giving up meat does not mean you have to give up a satisfying and filling meal. Try making one of these five recipes tonight and you may even forget that there wasn’t any meat in your dinner to begin with.
1. Grilled Vegetable Rigatoni
Ditch that meaty bolognese sauce on your pasta and try this grilled vegetable rigatoni instead. It’s filling, easy to make, and delicious enough to make you forget all about that bolognese sauce.
- Kosher salt
- 1 lb. rigatoni rigate
- 2 green zucchini, cut into 1/4″ diagonal slices
- 1 large eggplant, cut into 1/4″ rounds
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 cups marinara sauce
- 1/4 cup chopped parsley
2. Vegetarian Chili with Tortilla Crisps
Few dishes are as soothing or satisfying as hearty chili on a cold day, but you may be surprised to find that this vegetarian chili is just as filling and delicious as your favorite beef or turkey variety.
- 4 corn tortillas
- 1/4 cup Country Crock Original
- 1 large yellow onion, finely chopped
- 1 red pepper, diced
- 1 yellow pepper, diced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tbsp. chili powder
- 1 tbsp. cumin
- 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 28-oz. can whole tomatoes
- 1 15-oz. can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 15-oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 15-oz. can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
- 1/2 cup freshly chopped cilantro, plus more for serving
- 1/4 cup sour cream
- 1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
3. Portuguese Baked Eggs
It’s breakfast for dinner! This Portuguese baked egg dish packs lots of flavor, spice and protein.
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 3 bell peppers, any color, thinly sliced
- 1 medium red onion, thinly sliced
- 2 beefsteak tomatoes, cut into wedges
- 8 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 1 jalapeño, with seeds, halved lengthwise
- ¼ cup fresh basil leaves
- 2 tbsp. fresh oregano leaves
- 1½ tsp. chili powder
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 cup ricotta
- 6 large eggs
- 1 cup grated sharp white cheddar (about 4 oz.)
- ¼ cup grated Parmesan (about 1 oz.)
- Toasted country-style bread (for serving)
4. Chunky Portabella Veggie Burger
Satisfy your craving for a hearty burger with this delicious and flavorful portabella veggie burger.
- 2 cups portabella mushrooms, cubed (smaller pieces); gills removed
- 2 cups cooked black beans, rinsed and divided
- 1 cup minced broccoli, fresh only
- 1/2 cup red onion, minced
- 3 XL eggs, beaten
- 1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp. Panko or gluten free Panko
- 1 tbsp. Montreal Steak Seasoning
- 1 tbsp. worcestershire *for full vegetarian style use one that does not contain anchovies
- 2 tbsp. minced garlic
- 3/4 cup fresh grated parmesan *Look for vegetarian or vegan parmesan cheese if you do not eat animal products
- Olive oil
5. Black Bean Butternut Squash Quesadillas
These quesadillas are quick and easy to make and pack a punch of flavor and protein.
For the chipotle lime crema:
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 1 tsp. minced garlic
- 1 chipotle chili from a can of chipotles in adobo sauce
- Zest and juice of 1/2 a lime
For the quesadillas:
- 1/2 cup mashed cooked butternut squash
- 1 tbsp. chopped cilantro
- 1 1/2 tsp. taco seasoning
- 1/2 tsp. lime juice
- 2 tsp. olive or vegetable oil
- 2 flour tortillas
- 1/4 cup canned black beans, rinsed and drained
- 1/4 cup shredded Monterey jack cheese
Danielle Tarasiuk is a multimedia journalist based in Los Angeles. Her work has been published on AllDay.com, Yahoo! Sports, KCET, and NPR-affiliate stations KPCC and KCRW. She’s a proud Sarah Lawrence College and USC Annenberg alumn.