Can You Convince an African to Give Up Meat For One Day?


Published: May 5, 2014

Meatless Monday

T o tell an African to give up meat is like telling a baker to stop making bread. Africans love their meat! From goat to chicken and beef to pork, animal protein is a common feature on many African plates.

However, despite our immense love for meat, there is a large body of evidence that demonstrates that diets high in meat may be detrimental to good health and the environment.  Studies show that in addition to emitting excess carbon during commercial production, meat-powered diets contribute to excess weight, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, some types of cancer and other health concerns.

To the contrary, plant-based diets have been demonstrated to have numerous health benefits including the prevention of chronic disease. Luckily, one does not have to give up meat entirely.  Giving up meat, even on one day a week, can yield great health and environmental benefits. If you are ready to get healthier, consider joining in the ranks of celebrities like Oprah Winfrey and Chef Marcus Samuelson who participate in the “Meatless Monday” movement.

What is “Meatless Monday?”

Meatless Monday” is a worldwide campaign that encourages people to give up meat every Monday so as to improve their health and reduce their carbon footprint.  A part of the “Healthy Monday Campaign” initiated by health professionals in the USA, Meatless Monday stems off the notion that if you start the week with healthy intentions, you are more likely to stick with them.  As the first day of the week, Monday is a great day to commit to health and start afresh. The movement’s guidelines are simple – do not eat meat on Monday.


What are the health benefits of going meatless?

Their benefits are bountiful and well documented. Some of these include:

  • Lower cancer risk. Both red meat and processed foods have been linked to cancer while diets high in fruits and vegetables have been demonstrated to reduce risk.
  • Reduced heart disease risk. Artery clogging saturated fat and cholesterol found in meat and meat products are replaced with healthy polyunsaturated fats from nuts, vegetable oils and seeds.
  • Fights and controls diabetes: A Harvard University (USA) study concluded that replacing one serving of red meat per day with healthier proteins such as nuts and legumes significantly reduced an individual’s risk of becoming diabetic.  In addition, non-meat diets are high in fibre which helps control blood sugars.
  • Weight control:  When cooked without excess added fat and with quality meat replacers such as beans, lentils, soya and whole grains, meatless meals can be lower in calories than their meat containing counterparts. In addition, the high fibre content of plant foods helps control weight by increasing satiety thereby reducing overall amount of food eaten.
  • Improved brain health: Berries and nuts common in plant- powered meals contain antioxidants that help the brain to keep functioning well.
  • Healthy gut: The high fibre content of plants helps keep the gut working well and promotes regular bowel movements.
  • Strong immune system:  A healthy gut produces healthy bacteria that fight off disease.
  • Non-health benefits:  It is not just about improving your health, each meatless meal you eat reduces your carbon footprint, water usage and fossil fuel dependence. In addition, since meat is relatively expensive, going meatless can yield significant financial savings overtime.

Ready to join the movement?

It’s very easy; don’t eat meat on Monday. To clarify, “meat” means “all animal flesh.” That means no beef, chicken, turkey, goat, fish, lamb, rabbit, pork, grass eater etc. on Monday. Replace these with healthy plant protein foods such as soya (soy), beans, lentils, nuts and seeds.  Animal products such as dairy and eggs may be used but if you can eliminate them completely, go for it.  That’s all you need to do. Simple steps for great rewards. Can’t do Mondays? Pick another day; the benefits will still be the same on other days of the week. Can’t skip meat for a whole day?  Try replacing meat on 3 meals throughout the course of the week.

Meatless Monday movement is a global campaign and at present, South Africa is the only nation representing Africa.  Skip the meat on Monday and help put Nigeria on the Meatless Monday map. Need a little meal inspiration?  Start with this Ewa Agoyin recipe from our Radiant Health files – simply hold the meat.

Here’s to your health!

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About Cordialis Msora-Kasago

Cordialis Msora-Kasago is a Registered Dietitian (R.D) and a pioneer in the discussion of modern day healthy lifestyles in Africa. She is the founder of The African Pot Nutrition - an organization that improves the health of African people through sustainable diet and lifestyle programs. Follow her on twitter @africadietitian.

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