It may not be New Year’s but it is the start of a new school year, and even if you’re not in school, it’s never a bad time to start making healthier eating choices.

You can find endless lists of diets online, all promising to get you the best body or the best health in the fastest way possible. While many of these may work, the key to any healthy diet is consistency and balance. Drastic changes in your diet may be difficult to sustain overtime. They are also rarely well-received among kids. If you’re trying to make healthy decisions for the whole family, it’s best to start small. Small, consistent health choices can do more for everyone in the long run than you might expect.

Back during World War I and World War II, the U.S. Food Administration started the “Meatless Monday” campaign to encourage families to aid the war effort by cutting down on meat consumption. Today, Meatless Monday is a growing campaign to encourage families to make healthy choices for themselves, the environment and the economy. It’s a simple idea to get people thinking about what they are consuming. You may not be ready to go vegetarian completely, but one day a week still has major health benefits.

Vegetarians have been shown to have a lower risk of heart disease and hypertension. Eating less meat can also help you avoid obesity, high cholesterol and maybe even diabetes. Those who eat little to no meat also statistically have a lower risk of certain types of cancer, including ovarian and breast cancers.

On top of that, vegetarian meals typically cost less than meat-based meals. Save money once a week by leaving out the meat and loading up on delicious, colorful vegetables. There are so many out there, and just as many ways to make them. Save the money you would have used to spend on family outings or to give to charity.

Finally, you’re helping the environment. Meat production releases more greenhouse gases than vegetable production. If everyone eats just a little less meat, that’s a lot for the environment.

It's best to decide what kinds of diets will work best for you and your family. There are different levels of vegetarianism. You can go completely vegan (no animal products) or you can keep dairy and eggs in your diet.  Keep in mind that meat tends to contain higher amounts of certain essential vitamins and minerals. This doesn’t mean that meat is better, it just means you have to be more careful in the types of vegetables you choose. Beans, tofu and lentils are excellent sources of protein. Dark, leafy greens contain plenty of iron. If you’re going vegan, you can find calcium, vitamin B-12 and vitamin D in multivitamins and supplements.

The best part about going vegetarian only once a week, though, is that you don’t have to worry too much about missing these essential nutrients. Nevertheless, you can see how changing your routine just a little can help you become more conscious of what you are eating, which is perhaps the key to good health. When you know what you’re eating, you’re more likely to eat right.

Check out some of our delicious vegetarian recipes here



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