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Going meatless (for a day)

By Wade Rupard

Forum News Service

GRAND FORKS, N.D. — Millions of people are going meatless today.

The global sensation known as "Meatless Monday" has garnered support from people from all walks of life, and an Altru Hospital dietitian said he would recommend it for nearly everybody.

The idea is just as it sounds — do not eat meat one day out of the week — and the benefits, John Crist of Altru said, are numerous.

Crist, who works in the health system's nutrition therapy unit and is a registered dietitian nutritionist, said meat absolutely plays an important and beneficial role in a person's diet. However, oftentimes Americans — as well as other western cultures — eat much more meat than we need.

By going meatless for one day out of the week, people can increase versatility and variety in their diets.

"Reducing (eating meat) for one day out of the week — as long as you're getting a good balance of protein and other nutrients — can be a very beneficial experience," he said.

Though it's becoming more and more popular, Crist said he hasn't seen many people do something such as "Meatless Mondays." Instead, he usually sees one extreme or the other — people either go vegan or vegetarian or continue to eat meat every day.

But Crist said by cutting back on meat can have a number of positive effects on one's diet. He said by getting more plant sources people can increase their fiber and decrease the amount of saturated fat, while increasing healthy fat intake from eating more plants.

"I would recommend that nearly everybody give this a try," he said.

If someone were to start this, Crist said better eating habits would more than likely develop. People would be able to vary their diets and try different meals that they normally wouldn't have eaten.

For people who are looking to cut back on meat, Crist encouraged people to look at the variety of products that use soybeans. He said soybeans are a good meatless source of protein that can be cooked in a variety of different ways and is easy to prepare.

Going meatless also has an environmental impact by limiting a person's carbon footprint and reducing their animal intake.

"People do it for a variety of reasons," Crist said, "But in all cases, it's good for you."

The Meatless Monday campaign has grown dramatically over the last few years. High-profile chefs, as well as schools, colleges and wellness companies throughout the country have endorsed the concept.

"It's not about giving up meat entirely," Crist said. "It's about finding other alternatives, such as fruits and vegetables to make a more well-rounded diet."