If you know me, you would not be surprised to hear one of my favorite foods is steak. There’s nothing like a medium-done filet with sizzling garlic butter . . . mmmm.
But as I’m sure you’ve heard, going plant-based is better for our individual health. Plant-based diets have been found to reduce the risk of heart disease, metabolic syndrome, diabetes, certain cancers, and depression, and they can contribute to longer life spans. Also, the effects on climate change and wildlife are irrefutable. Meat production is responsible for deforestation, as well as human rights violations for workers. Additionally, 70% of infectious diseases can be spread from animals, and mass meat production plays a big role in that.
And some of us know this, but the thought of never eating a hamburger again makes us want to cry (or maybe that’s just me).
So, what do you do when you want to eat healthier and have a lower meat consumption but don’t think you can give it up completely? May I introduce you to what I like to call: weekday vegetarian.
This is an eating plan our family follows to make healthier choices without giving up our favorites, giving up cultural foods, or being left out of holiday meals. It’s simple: eat plant-based meals Monday through Friday, allowing yourself to eat meat only on weekends and holidays. (Because Thanksgiving is always on a Thursday, duh.)
Why We Went “Weekday Vegetarian”
My husband and I decided that we needed to be healthier. After receiving our annual bloodwork from our primary care provider, we wanted to make some changes. After evaluating our family history and finding high cholesterol, cancers, and heart disease sitting on either side of the family tree, we knew we needed to cut out some meat and increase our vegetable intake.
It was clear that going vegetarian was the best choice. But surprise surprise, we failed. I can’t help it if I just really really love Whataburger. And our favorite date place is Tucanos, which is not for vegetarians. So, we decided that we should make some changes. From now on, we get meat on weekends, holidays, and vacations.
Tips for Going Weekday Vegetarian
It definitely isn’t easy. We ate meat for every meal before this, so making a change was daunting. My sister had been a full-time vegetarian for years prior and sent us some resources.
She let us borrow her cookbooks, and some of our favorites were: The Flexible Vegetarian website and book, Thug Kitchen, Love and Lemons Every Day, and One-Pot Vegetarian Also don’t forget about Pinterest! Check out some of ABQ Moms favorite plant-based recipes here and here.
Meal Delivery Service
We also signed up for a meal delivery service. With places like Hello Fresh and Every Plate, you can set up your account to receive plant-based meals. This helped up figure out how and what to cook when my first instinct was to throw a chicken breast on the grill.
With the growing interest in a meatless lifestyle, many restaurants are offering meat alternatives. Burger King, Cheesecake Factory, Carl’s Jr., and Red Robin have the Impossible Burger. Taco Bell replaces meat with black beans, and Del Taco has a meat substitute. Blaze Pizza also offers a meatless chorizo topping. In fact, a quick google search will tell you everything you need to know, including vegetarian restaurants when you’re ready to try something new!
And Remember . . .
Be patient and gracious to yourself. You won’t get it right away. It’ll take you and your kids a hot second to get used to it. There are no hard rules. If you’re invited to a family BBQ on a Friday, swap days! Or just have three meat days that week. It can be hard to transition your diet especially when no one else is. But you’ve got this!
Much like going zero-waste or shopping sustainably, some change is better than no change.
Originally published November 2021.
The opinions expressed in this post are those of the author. They do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of ABQ Mom, its executive team, other contributors to the site, its sponsors or partners, or any organizations the aforementioned might be affiliated with.