Inflation-Buster Recipes: Meatless Mondays

Meatless Mondays

According to the USDA, the average American consumes about 144 pounds of meat a year, and yearly meat intake is projected to increase in the upcoming years. That’s a lot of meat, especially when Americans following a healthy diet should be eating less than about 85 pounds of meat per year.1 It’s important for seniors to maintain a healthy diet, and for most people that means reducing meat consumption, but this is a good thing. There are many health benefits to reducing meat consumption. Additionally, the meat industry has a colossal environmental impact that can be reduced when we choose not to eat meat. Finally, with the cost of meat skyrocketing in these inflationary times, vegetarian dishes are often far less expensive to put on the table.


Meatless Mondays vs Vegetarianism: What’s the Difference?


We seem to be hearing more and more about people becoming vegans and vegetarians, but what’s been the cause of this change? Many people choose to be vegetarian or vegan because of their upbringing or their personal beliefs about animal rights, but for most people who have eaten meat their entire lives, these reasons are either non-applicable or not reason enough to spark a change. For a lot of people, it’s the combined benefit of helping animals, helping the environment, and helping yourself to be healthy that inspires the decision to go meatless.


But should everyone be a vegetarian? No, we don’t all have to be vegetarians all the time in order to make a positive impact. In fact, being vegetarian isn’t good for everyone. Meat provides a lot of nutrients to the body, and seniors in particular have difficulty absorbing nutrients from food. A lack of nutrition can lead to fatigue, dizziness, and fainting. Seniors who experience these symptoms and are concerned about falling should wear an Alert1 At-Home+Fall Detection medical alert pendant.2


One nutrient in particular that many vegetarians have trouble getting enough of is protein, and for people who are used to eating a lot of protein, making this change can cause problems. For example, without as much protein, you’re more likely to turn to foods that are high in fat and carbs in order to satiate hunger. These foods are usually bad for your health to begin with, so eating an excess of them when you’re hungry can be harmful to your body. However, an easier way to reap the benefits of vegetarianism without actually becoming one is to simply reduce meat consumption.


An easy way to reduce meat consumption is to give up meat for one day each week. This day certainly doesn’t have to be on a Monday, but Meatless Mondays does have a nice ring to it. Another reason why it’s good to go meatless on Mondays is because then if you accidentally (or purposely) eat meat on Monday, you still have the rest of the week to make it up if you wish. And the beauty is, if after a few weeks you decide that one day a week isn’t enough, you can always add more. Meatless Thursday needs a little love sometimes, too.


Less Meat, Better Health


We’ve already mentioned that reducing meat consumption has a lot of health benefits, but what are they? The good news is that many of the health benefits that come with eating less meat are particularly beneficial to seniors.


Heart Health


According to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, vegetarians are up to ⅓ less likely to be hospitalized or die from heart disease.3 Simply eating less meat can improve heart health, especially when your diet includes more fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts, legumes, and generally more fiber. Replacing meat, especially red meat which is high in fat, with foods that are high in fiber can reduce cholesterol and also decrease the risk of heart attacks.


Type 2 Diabetes


Vegetarians also tend to have a reduced risk of developing type 2 diabetes and are able to manage type 2 diabetes better than most people. This is because meatless diets tend to consist of low-glycemic foods that keep blood sugar levels steady.


Blood Pressure


Meaty foods can contain a lot of fat, sodium, and cholesterol, so reducing meat consumption can help to limit the intake of these. Fat, sodium, and cholesterol all contribute to high blood pressure, so eating less of these, in addition to eating more fruits and vegetables with potassium, will improve your blood pressure.


Positive Environmental Impact


Another main reason why eating less meat is important for seniors is because it can help the environment. Preserving the environment and helping the planet has always been a way for current generations to give a gift to the future generations, and going meatless every once in a while is a simple and important way to protect the planet. The current rate of meat consumption on our planet is not sustainable, but if a lot of people make a little change, this colossal issue becomes a simple one to solve.


Greenhouse Gas Emissions


Cow farts are not destroying the world, but the truth isn’t too far off. The beef industry is one of the largest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions. About 14.5% of total global greenhouse gas emissions come from the meat industry.4 Animals — particularly cows — release methane as they digest, and while this doesn’t exactly translate into cow farts, there is a large amount of methane gas released from cows’ mouths as they eat. This alone is a huge contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, not even mentioning the carbon footprint created as meat is processed and shipped.


Meatless Protein Power!


While there are a ton of imitation meat products on the market, there are also plenty of options that don’t involve you wistfully staring at a veggie burger and wishing it were real. You also don’t need to worry about having to shell out extra money to buy some fancy organic pre-packaged food you’ve never heard of. Most of the health benefits that come from reducing meat intake have to do with replacing meat with healthy plant-based protein options. Here are some simple, delicious, protein-packed ingredients, some of which were even included on a recent blog post about cost-efficient recipes!6


·         Eggs - One egg has about 7 grams of protein, about 4 of which come from the egg white. Egg whites are a healthier option than egg yolks, which are packed with fat. While eating an entire egg is great, if high cholesterol is something that concerns you, egg whites still offer a lot of protein without the additional fat and cholesterol.


·         Beans - Beans and legumes are a great source of both protein and fiber, making them a very filling alternative to eating meat. Beans also pair very nicely with whole gains, both in flavor and composition. The amino acids in beans are different from the ones that are in whole grains, and when eaten together, either at the same time or at least on the same day, the amino acids in beans and whole grains will combine to make even more protein. And beans tend to be inexpensive, especially when compared to meat.


·         Rice - We all know about rice already. While brown rice has more calories than white rice, it also has a lot more nutrition; I’m talking about the fiber and the protein again. Rice is also very filling because it absorbs a lot of water while it’s cooking. Since it’s stored dry, rice is always a great way to turn a little bit of food into a full meal, and it’s a great addition to almost any dish. Basic rice varieties are also extremely inexpensive and can be purchased in bulk for even greater savings.


·         Pasta - Pasta comes in all different kinds of fun shapes and sizes. Similar to brown rice, whole-wheat pastas will contain a lot of additional nutrition, making it a wonderfully healthy comfort food for seniors. It’s also far easier on your wallet than steak!


·         Quinoa - Quinoa is very similar to rice, but it has twice as much protein. Just like rice, quinoa tends to take on the flavor of whatever it’s cooked with. Something to keep in mind when shopping for quinoa is that it sometimes comes pre-seasoned. If you don’t like the spices used, you probably won’t like the flavor, but that shouldn’t turn you away from eating quinoa again. Make sure to specifically look for quinoa that is unflavored if you wish to season it yourself.


Here are some easy, delicious, wallet-friendly recipes to get your Meatless Mondays started!


Egg White Egg Bites



·         1 cup of egg whites

·         1/3 cup cottage cheese

·         1/4 cup of Monterey Jack cheese or other shredded cheese

·         1/2 teaspoon of onion powder

·         1/4 teaspoon of pepper

·         About 1/4 teaspoon of salt

·         3 drops of hot sauce or a pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)

·         1/3 cup of roasted red pepper, chopped

·         1/4 cup of chopped spinach



Boil water on the stove and pour it into a baking pan, then put the pan into the oven. Add egg whites, cottage cheese, shredded cheese, onion powder, salt, black pepper, and hot sauce / red pepper flakes to a blender and blend them together. Grease a muffin tray and sprinkle the spinach and roasted red pepper into the grooves. Pour the egg mixture into the muffin grooves and place the muffin tray into the baking pan of water in the oven. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes.


Quinoa Salad


·         2 cups raw quinoa

·         1 pint of grape tomatoes

·         1 large cucumber

·         1 large green pepper

·         1 large onion

·         1 can of black olives

·         1 bottle of Italian dressing (approx. 16 ounces)


Cook quinoa according to the instructions on the package. While it cooks, wash tomatoes and cut them in half. Put the tomatoes into large, heat resistant mixing bowl. Peel cucumber. Remove seeds if desired. Chop and add to the mixing bowl. Wash pepper. Remove seeds and stem. Chop and add to the mixing bowl. Open and drain can of olives. Chop and add to mixing bowl. Allow cooked quinoa to cool for 5 minutes, then add to the mixing bowl. Add in half of the bottle of Italian dressing. Mix, cover and chill at least 2 hours. Serve with dressing so you may add as much or as little as desired. Makes dinner for 2.


Power Bowl


·         Three 15 oz cans of Cannellini (White Kidney) Beans

·         10 oz of frozen Chopped Spinach

·         1 cup raw Brown Rice

·         1 cup raw Quinoa

·         2 cups of water

·         2 cups of Chablis or Vegetable Broth

·         1 bottle (approx. 16 oz.) Balsamic Vinaigrette

·         Feta Cheese crumbles to taste

·         Dried Cranberries to taste


Cook quinoa with water according to package instructions. Cook brown rice with Chablis or broth according to package instructions. Cook spinach according to package instructions and drain well. Open the cans of beans, place into colander and drain well. Rinse well and drain again. Combine quinoa, rice, spinach and beans into a large pot. Add half a bottle of dressing and stir well. Heat on low until beans are warm, approximately 15 minutes, stirring frequently. Serve hot and top with dressing, cheese and cranberries to taste. Makes dinner for 4.


Black Beans with Brown Rice


·         1 jar salsa

·         1 can Italian style stewed tomatoes (drained)

·         1 can black beans (drained, rinsed and drained again)

·         1 cup raw brown rice (white rice may be used as well)

·         Optional toppings: Shredded cheddar cheese, sour cream, black olives, restaurant style tortilla chips


Prepare the rice according to package instructions. Once it is cooked, keep it in the pot and add in the salsa, stewed tomatoes and black beans. Place on low heat until everything is warmed, stirring frequently. Serve hot. Add optional toppings if desired.


These recipes have protein, so you’ll have enough energy for the day. This is important for seniors because in order to stay healthy, you have to have enough energy. With all that energy, you’ll be out and about, so check out Alert1’s On-the-Go Wrist Watch Medical Alert + GPS + Pedometer for your active lifestyle.7


For seniors with health or mobility concerns, wearing an Alert1 medical alert pendant can give you peace of mind to know that help is always just one button press away and you are independent but never alone.8


As always, Alert1 wishes you happy, healthy cooking. Bon appetit!