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Maneuvering Meatless Monday

School cafeterias across the country have started implementing Meatless Mondays, where they do not serve any meat in their cafeteria on the first day of the week. Saratoga County in Florida was one of the more recent districts to implement this, but it has been spreading since the campaign first began in 2003.

The goal of this campaign is to lower the risk of illnesses that can be caused from eating too much meat. According to their website, our generation consumes 75 more pounds of meat a year than those before us. Their solution is for people to “do something good for themselves and the planet” by eliminating meat consumption one day of the week.

\This campaign has done a lot of good. They’ve expanded to over 36 different countries, gaining the support of major names like Paul McCartney, and have encouraged a healthier lifestyle across the globe. However, for the picky eater, this can be a difficult day for school lunches.

On a personal note, Meatless Monday was always a rough day for me when it was implemented in my high school. As a diabetic, meat is one of maybe three things I can eat without calculating the exact amount I was eating, as meat has no carbohydrates. Thus, meat was usually a huge part of my school lunches. But I still wanted to participate in the campaign, especially once I learned about the benefits it has on your health.

Surprisingly enough, I found my solution in cheese. Cheese contains a very limited amount of carbohydrates, and thus as long as I wasn’t an eating entire block of cheese in one sitting, I had nothing to worry about. I was able to find ways to participate in Meatless Monday without having to obsessively count everything I was eating, which made adding this to my routine that much easier.

As this trend is now growing in popularity in cafeterias, restaurants, and even hospitals, I figured it was time to share my knowledge on maneuvering Meatless Monday, so picky eaters, diabetics, and all others can find ways to participate in this day but still feel satisfied with their meals.

Culture has previously written about enhancing the school lunch. However, some of these ideas included meat, so they obviously wouldn’t work for Meatless Monday. The following are entirely meatless ideas to use on this day.

    Grilled Cheese

  1. One idea is to go with the classic grilled cheese. Grilled cheese is simply delicious, and there are countless ways to adapt it to fit the appetite of a picky eater or provide variety for those who hate eating the same thing every day. We recently wrote about our favorite variations on this classic sandwich, but some of them would have to be discarded for the sake of Meatless Monday.
  2. Spring Market Salad

  3. Another idea would be to pack a salad. This is no simple task, especially for those who have to keep their lunches in a hot locker all day, but it can be done with the right insulation. A good ice pack can keep a lunch cold for hours on end, and thus makes the salad a completely feasible option for Meatless Mondays. Plus, it means they’ll also be eating vegetables! See some salad recipe ideas here.
  4. CULTURE_540x360_SPRING_PIZZA_spin.artichoke copy

  5. If there is access to a microwave, another idea to consider is packing pizza. Yes, many of the best pizzas have meat on them, but there are plenty of great pizza recipes that exclude meat. Even plain cheese pizza would work really well for a Meatless Monday meal. The one downfall to this idea is that it may not work if there’s no access to a microwave, unless you or whomever you’re packing for happens to enjoy cold pizza. But this is absolutely still a viable option. Here are some ideas for pizza recipes.
  6. Poole's Macaroni Au Gratin

  7. One other idea is packing pasta. This could be leftovers from a previous dinner, or a pasta salad picked up from the grocery store, or even mac and cheese. This is a great way to guarantee that you or whomever you’re packing for will stay full for longer, and it’s a great way to add cheese into the meal. See some of our favorite pasta recipes here.

Meatless Monday is not something that’s going away anytime soon. If anything, it’s only going to continue to grow. But that doesn’t mean those who love to pack cold-cut sandwiches for lunch everyday have to sit on the sidelines. They can take part in Meatless Monday as well, and maybe even try a few new things while they’re at it.

Featured Image Courtesy of meatlessmonday.com

Amanda Doughty

Amanda Doughty considers cheese to be an essential part of her upbringing, as her family owns Anthony's Italian Kitchen, an Italian restaurant in Portland, Maine. Currently she studies creative writing at Emerson, where she is considered an outcast for refusing to touch the disgusting pizza in the Dining Hall. She admits that is a bit of a food snob, especially when it comes to pizza and cheese.