Just Another Meatless Monday
Make room for tasty vegetarian dishes in your weekly menu
By Alanna Kennedy-Gorman
For many people, a meal that doesn't include red meat isn't a meal at all. But when it comes to reducing cancer risk, meat may be the last thing you need.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that most Americans eat nearly five ounces of red meat a day. Yet over the past three decades, studies have repeatedly linked a diet high in red meat or processed meats like bacon with an increased risk of developing some cancers, including colorectal, renal cell, prostate and breast cancers. In fact, a study conducted by the National Cancer Institute and published in 2009 in the Archives of Internal Medicine found that people who heavily consumed red meat had about a 20 percent increased risk of death from cancer, compared with people who consumed little red meat.
The good news is that studies have shown that eating a diet heavy on fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts and seeds—and light on meat—is one of the best ways to reduce cancer risk, says Wendy Bazilian, a nutrition researcher and educator who runs a health and wellness clinic in San Diego.
You don’t have to go completely vegetarian or vegan to reap these benefits. Since 2007, the World Cancer Research Fund and the American Institute for Cancer Research have suggested that people limit their red meat consumption to less than 500 grams (about a pound) a week, which is roughly equivalent to eating a quarter-pound hamburger four times a week.
If that sounds challenging, Bazilian suggests starting out by picking one day a week to go meatless. “Think about how you can take your favorite recipe or meal and modify it,” she says. “Swap out burger night with veggie burgers or do pizza with vegetables or cheese pizza with a salad on the side. … It’s not an all-or-nothing proposition when it comes to becoming acquainted with a plant-powered diet.”
To get started, try this meatless recipe
packed with veggies but sure to please the most devout carnivore.