When planning out your Meatless Monday meal, it may seem easy to switch your usual dishes for fast food, instant meals or a frozen dinner. But these “junk food” options present many of the same health problems as excessive meat consumption, increasing your risk of heart disease, stroke and obesity.
According to the USDA’s report, Assessing the Healthfulness of Consumers’ Grocery Purchases, our rates of refined grain, fat, sugar, beverage, and frozen food consumption are all much higher than they should be, while our intake of whole grains, fruits, vegetables and legumes is significantly lower than recommended.
While meat products are the main source of saturated fat in the American diet, candy, chips, pizza and French fries are also to blame. Processed foods also contain trans fats and excessive amounts of sodium, increasing the risk of heart attack and stroke. What’s more, these foods are some of the leading sources of calories in the average American diet, which can lead to obesity and obesity-related health complications.
Instead of swapping meat out for unhealthy convenience food this week, add fresh fruits, vegetables, beans and whole grains to your diet. Not only will you improve the nutrition profile of your meal, you may find that you prefer the healthier option! For a fresh spin on junk food, check out these meatless recipes from the archive and our sister campaign, The Kids Cook Monday: