Reducing meat from your diet has many health and environmental benefits. And Mondays are the perfect days to remember to go meatless – Meatless Mondays!
According to the Meatless Monday campaign of Johns Hopkins’ Bloomberg School of Public Health, reducing meat consumption “may reduce your risk of chronic preventable conditions like cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and obesity.” Additionally, the documentary “Forks without Knives” is a fabulous introduction to how you can improve your health and the way you look through a more plant-based diet.
Also, since meat significantly contributes to greenhouse gases, reducing your meat demand helps to drop your carbon footprint and save on natural resources like fresh water and fossil fuels.
In fact, about one-fifth of the world’s greenhouse gases are due to livestock, and the United Nations considers the explosion in livestock production to be one of the world’s most serious environmental problems. Furthermore, about 1,800 to 2,500 gallons of water go into a single pound of beef, whereas only 220 gallons for a pound of soy tofu.
While not everyone will become vegetarian or vegan, all of us can make the commitment become flexitarian. This simply means that you commit to diversify your diet so that you don’t need to eat meat everyday. It also means you learn how to make nutritious and healthy food without meat, often taking advantage of seasonal veggies and fruits. Here’s a recipe to get you started –
Picture courtesy of Flickr: graibeard
Garlic and Red Bell Pepper Stuffed Zucchini
1 extra large or 2 large fresh zucchini
2 15 oz. cans organic pinto beans, drained
¾ cup Spanish olives
3 garlic cloves, peeled and diced
1 cup diced red bell pepper
1 cup diced fresh tomato
¼ cup finely chopped cilantro
¾ cup finely diced yellow onion
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast (optional)
salt and pepper to taste
Heat oven to 400 degrees. Wash and cut the ends off the zucchini. Using a spoon and butter knife, carve and scoop out the middle-seeded, pulp section from inside the center of the zucchini to create a cavity for stuffing.
Thoroughly combine the stuffing ingredients in a bowl – beans, olives, garlic, red bell pepper, tomato, cilantro, yellow onion, and optional nutritional yeast. Salt and pepper to taste.
Cover one end of each zucchini with tin foil. Stuff each zucchini, packing firmly. Cover the open end of the zucchini with foil. Any leftover stuffing can be cooked separately or used as a fresh salsa.
Place stuffed zucchini on a cookie sheet and place in the oven for 40 minutes. Check for desired doneness by piercing with a fork. When the fork penetrates with ease, the zucchini is done. Consider combining with cooked rice and seasonal fruit. Enjoy!