Meatless Monday, a movement that has been sweeping the U.S., is a first step toward living healthier. In study after study it’s been shown that a plant-based diet is better for your health. Reducing fat and sugar will also have a positive impact on your weight. Eating at least one meatless meal a week is also a more ethical way to live, and it helps the environment.
Breeding and growing animals for meat requires huge amounts of water, land, and energy and affects the environment in adverse ways. (Climate change, anyone?) If the foods used to feed animals went instead towards feeding people, the positive effect on the environment would be staggering, and it would greatly assist in the relief of world hunger.
Ethically, many of us own pets: cats, dogs, birds, and other animals. How can we love them but kill other animals?
For these reasons, many have joined the Meatless Monday global movement, adults and kids alike. Locally Danielle Hill of Chesapeake won second prize in a Meatless Mondays contest for her recipe, Lentil and Wild Rice Stuffed Zucchini, in 2012.
Meatless Monday is not a new phenomenon. During WWI, the U.S. Food Administration asked citizens to go meatless on Mondays and go wheatless on Wednesdays to “do their part” to reduce consumption of key food staples. The movement was revived during WWII by President Roosevelt to assist in the war effort at home and to help support the people of war-torn Europe.
Here’s an easy Meatless Monday recipe to try: Lentil Veggie Soup/Stew. It’s a one-pot meal and so good with a chunk of crusty bread—and even better the next day! Another meatless meal that’s sure to be a hit is homemade pizza with your own or store-bought pizza dough, vegetarian mozzarella cheese, marinara sauce, plus lots of veggies!
Lentil Veggie Soup
1 cup lentils, regular or red (I like red.)
1 lg. onion, chopped (I prefer big pieces. So much for knife skills.)
10 potatoes, cubed in 1-in. pieces: 6 red, 2 white, and 2 sweet (for red, leave skin on; white and sweet, peel first.)
6 carrots, chopped (in big pieces; peel if you wish.)
2 parsnips, chopped (in slices; peeled.)
3-4 quarts vegetable broth (you can use cubes or concentrate + water if you like)
cumin, to taste
turmeric, to taste
salt, to taste
• Rinse lentils first. Pick out anything obviously not edible, such as rocks.
• Sauté 1 cup lentils in olive oil. Add onion and sauté until starting to go opaque and brown on edges.
• Add cut-up potatoes, carrots, parsnips. Sprinkle with cumin. Continue stirring until uniformly mixed and the cumin smells really yummy. (Don’t burn.)
• Add vegetable broth to cover vegetables. If using water, add veggie broth cubes/concentrate according to directions.
• Simmer until veggies are soft. Add more cumin, turmeric, and salt to taste.
• Add water, if needed, and adjust spices. Less water will make the dish more like stew. More water will make it more like soup.
• Root vegetables work best in this soup as they stay together well, but other veggies can be added depending on what you have in the fridge.
• Approximate cooking time is one hour, depending on what vegetables you use and how big the pieces are cut.
• Enjoy with a chunk of crusty bread.
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Mindy Berger is a displaced New York City girl currently living in Tidewater. She works in business development, marketing, media, food writing, vegetarian cooking/catering, and more. She is currently seeking sponsors/underwriters for a TV show on public television.