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Don’t have a cow: Try Meatless Monday during Nutrition Month

Toronto, March 4, 2011

Dr. David Jenkins Dr. David Jenkins

By Kate Taylor

March is National Nutrition Month and a growing number of Canadians are using the occasion to practice “Meatless Monday” and go meatless for one day a week.

Meatless Monday originated during the First World War when Americans were encouraged to give up staple foods to aid the war effort. During the Second World War it was a way to help supply food to war-torn Europe.

The concept was revived in 2003 as part of a public health and environmental awareness campaign by Johns Hopkins University. The movement went global in 2009 when Paul McCartney and his daughters introduced it in Britain. Earthsave Canada started B.C. Meatless Monday program – Canada's first – the same year.

Going meatless can have lasting health benefits, according to Dr. David Jenkins, who runs the hospital’s Clinical Nutrition and Risk Factor Modification Centre.

“Studies have shown that vegetarian diets help to lower LDL or ‘bad’ cholesterol,” said Dr. Jenkins. “Especially for people whose diets also include sticky fibres—the kind that make oatmeal porridge “sticky;” vegetable proteins such as peas, beans and lentils; nuts; and plant sterols found in vegetable oils.”

When these foods are incorporated into a vegetarian diet, a person’s bad cholesterol can be reduced by as much as 20 to 30 per cent. When eaten with as part of a non-vegetarian diet, they lower bad cholesterol by 10 to 15 per cent.

Dr. Jenkins and his team have put together a well-balanced “Meatless Monday Menu.” (see below)

“We have proposed a diet for one day a week, but we believe it’s the ideal diet to be on for the rest of the days of the week, too,” said Dr. Jenkins.

Every week during Nutrition Month, St. Michael’s Hospital will offer experts who can talk about healthy eating as part of a package of health tips and ideas to encourage healthy eating and well-being.

  • March 7: Meatless Mondays
  • March 14: Foods to build kids brains and bones during Spring Break
  • March 21: Spice up Your Life
  • March 28: Power foods you may not have heard about

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