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Meatless Mondays: The Newest Food Movement

Give up meat (and saturated fat) one day a week

Meatless Mondays

Zucchini and Red Pepper Panini — John Montana/StockFood/Getty Images

Meatless Mondays is a grass roots food movement picking up steam. What started as a public health initiative in 2003 to reduce meat consumption in America has now been embraced by schools, colleges and hospitals, as well as by prominent, meat-loving chefs such as Mario Batali and Wolfgang Puck. Even Oprah Winfrey is joining the movement, establishing Meatless Mondays at Harpo Studios.

See also: How to find a farmers market near you.

The nonprofit Monday Campaigns developed the Meatless Monday campaign in partnership with the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future. The initiative was based on the Healthy People 2010 report's recommendation that Americans reduce their saturated fat intake by 15 percent.

Dr. Robert S. Lawrence, director of the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future, credits meat and high-fat dairy as the source of nearly all saturated fat in the American diet. "Cutting meat out one day a week can help Americans reach the reduction goal with little effort," Lawrence said in a statement.

An ever-growing body of research indicates that for those who battle high cholesterol levels, high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes and cancer, a diet rich in whole grains, vegetables, fruits and nuts can aid in reversing the symptoms. Since seniors often deal with these health issues, it is good news that Sodexo, a national and institutional food service provider, is rolling out a Meatless Monday option for its senior living community clients in 2011.

For those who are considering a vegetarian diet for one day a week or more, the Vegetarian Resource Group provides information on the nutritional considerations of a vegan or vegetarian diet. Going meatless for one day a week is unlikely to create iron or B12 deficiencies, but it is always a good idea to check with a doctor before making any major changes to your diet.

The Meatless Monday campaign was designed around that day of the week because studies indicate you are more likely to maintain behaviors begun on a Monday throughout the week. So if you want to claim this healthy call to action for your calendar week, here are some meatless recipes to get you started:

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