A recent study revealed that consumers, especially Gen Z’s are shifting their eating habits towards more plant-based diets.

The research found that while 79% of Gen Z’s choose to go meatless once or twice a week, 65% said they want a more “plant-forward” diet.

If you too are looking to spice up your diet with more fresh fruit and vegetables without committing fully to being vegetarian or vegan, going meatless once a week is a great place to start.

Working Meatless Mondays into your weekly diet will help you to gradually decrease the amount of meat and animal products you eat while increasing your fruit, veggie, nut, and whole grain intake.

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Eating more consciously and in a well-balanced way can do wonders not only for your health, but for the health of the planet too.

Still not convinced? Here are five reasons to go vegetarian on Mondays – or any other day that suits you.

You will reap the health benefits

Meat-free eating used to have a bad rep for potential nutritional deficiencies, however, more recent research shows that plant-based foods are full of key nutrients and can even help reduce the risk for many chronic conditions.

For example, one study analysed individuals following vegan, lacto-ovo-vegetarian, semi-vegetarian, pesco-vegetarian, and non-vegetarian diets. It found that the vegan group had the lowest risk for cancer, heart disease, and hypertension.

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More so, considering the vegans consumed the most fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes, this group also had the highest levels of beta-carotene, fibre, and omega-3 fatty acids, and the lowest level of saturated fatty acids – a massive contributor to high cholesterol and heart disease.

You will save some money

Your bank account is another area that will benefit from plant-based eating – even if it’s just one day of the week. There’s no denying that meat and other animal products are typically more expensive than fresh produce and plant-based proteins like legumes.

For example, a tin of black beans is a fraction of the price of beef or chicken, and you’ll be getting an impressive 15g protein in one cup serving.

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You will still meet your protein goals

Speaking of protein, the above is but one example that proves that plant-forward eating doesn’t mean less protein. In fact, beans, lentils, nuts, tofu, pea-, soy- and rice-based protein powders are all great sources of protein, fibre, and important vitamins and minerals.

Add some of these underrated gems to soups, stews or salads to up your protein intake, or make yourself a quick and easy plant-based protein shake for a filling and nutritious option on the go.

You will expand your taste-buds (without sacrificing your faves)

One of the best things about plant-based eating is that you can still eat the foods you love – you are simply replacing meat ingredients with plant alternatives. Instead of ordering your usual meat lover’s pizza on a Saturday night, you can spend time with your loved ones making healthy homemade pizzas, topped with delicious veggies you’ve never tried before.

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Meat-free eating, even one day a week, gives you a chance to eat all the colours of the rainbow, discovering new fruits and vegetables and stepping out of your comfort zone to become a more adventurous eater and creative cook.

You will make a positive impact on the environment

Arguably the most important reason, cutting back on meat can make a huge difference for the environment and the future of our planet. A recent United Nations report revealed that the meat industry causes almost 40% more greenhouse gas emissions than all the world’s transportation systems combined. It is also a major source of land and water degradation.

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By replacing some of your meat with nutritious veggies, fruits, legumes, and whole grains, you’ll be mixing things up. And all in all, going meat-free for one day of the week is a win-win for your health, wallet, taste buds, and the environment.