The global Meat Free Monday campaign was launched in 2009 by musician Paul McCartney and his daughters Mary and Stella. Operating as a not-for-profit, the campaign aims to encourage people to help slow climate change, conserve precious natural resources and improve their health by having at least one plant-based day each week.
Paul isn’t the only one passionate about cutting down on our reliance on meat. In South Africa, celebrated chef, food writer and TV show host Sarah Graham says that she’s long been an advocate of increasing the intake of plant-based protein. Sarah encourages her audience to focus on eating whole, nutrient-dense foods in balanced ratios – catering to your body’s needs in a more impactful way.
“Your body requires a balanced and optimal intake of nutrients to enable it to function well and to maintain balance,” says Graham. “Fruit and vegetables provide the micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) your body requires for optimal functioning, allowing you to reduce your reliance on animal-based products.”
Here are five reasons to choose more plant-based food options:
It’s good for your body: Fresh produce provides a wide variety of plant chemicals (termed ‘phytonutrients’ or ‘phytochemicals’) that perform specific biological actions within the body, including anti-inflammatory activity, antioxidant activity, immune-supporting activity and cleansing properties.
It’s good for the environment: Globally, food production accounts for almost a third of the world’s emissions of harmful greenhouse gases, and more than half of that is down to commercially farmed animals.
It’s forward-thinking: Many of the world’s leading health organisations now encourage a reduction in the amount of meat we should be consuming.
It’s animal-friendly: Choosing plant-based food is a compassionate step that helps decrease our reliance on animal products in our diet.
It’s healthier: Vegetarians appear to have lower low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels, lower blood pressure and lower rates of hypertension and type 2 diabetes than meat eaters.
In many instances, people lack the inspiration or know-how to plan and prepare vegetarian meals for their families. Some companies, like UCOOK, have solved this issue by providing chef-made meals that are packed with vegetables, for people trying to better balance their diets. Almost 50% of the UCOOK Craft Meal range of frozen meals are vegetarian, including a Vegan Cottage Pie by chef Sarah Graham. “I love the fact that something that is completely plant based, packed with flavour and full of natural plant proteins is so easily available to us all.”