The Latin diet may, in many cases, be very meat centric, but there are also great vegetarian dishes that tap into classic flavors and are just as tasty. (Photo/Betty Cortina)

The Latin diet may, in many cases, be very meat centric, but there are also great vegetarian dishes that tap into classic flavors and are just as tasty. (Photo/Betty Cortina)

A very Latin Meatless Monday

Many of us know Meatless Monday as a global movement whose goal is to reduce the prevalence of preventable diseases—diabetes, heart disease, obesity—associated with excessive meat consumption. It’s a simple notion: skip meat one day a week and your your body will thank you for it.

But many might not realize Meatless Monday, in fact, dates back to the first World War, when the U.S. Food Administration urged families to reduce consumption of key staples as a means of aiding the country’s war efforts. It was as popular then as it seemingly is today: more than 13 million families pledged to observe the Administration’s Meatless Monday during the war. The initiative would also return years later in the wake of World War II, when America used rationing to help feed war-ravaged Europe.

These days, Meatless Monday may have less to do with war-time shortages than with with the battle to fight preventable diseases—but it is just as relevant. Red meats are generally high in saturated fats, which raises cholesterol and increases the risk heart disease; excessive consumption has also been linked to obesity rates, which is a key factor in diabetes. It’s been well-reported that nationwide, and in particular in the Hispanic community, the incidence of these diseases are reaching crisis levels.

So while Latin diet can, in many cases, be meat-centric, there are just as many vegetarian options that are just as tasty. Today, celebrate Meatless Monday with one of our five meatless recipes:

SOPA SECA

Sopa SecaThis simple, classic Mexican pasta casserole is hearty but and packed with flavor. Thanks to garnishes of avocado, sour cream and serrano chile, you won’t miss the meat! Click here for the recipe.

VEGGIE PIZZA

Veggie PizzaStep away from the pepperoni and instead top an easy homemade pizza with some classic Latin ingredients, like corn, calabacitas and Mexican cheeses. Click here for the recipe.

CHOPPED JICAMA SALAD

Jicama, corn, avocado chopped saladRefreshing and crunchy, jicama is a sweet root vegetable that was first cultivated by the Aztecs. High in fiber, potassium and especially vitamin C—meaning it’s a bona fide power food!—it’s at its peak in the fall. Click here for the recipe.

ARROZ CON HUEVO FRITO

Arroz con huevo fritoIt may be a throw-back dish that Mami likely made when money or time was tight, but to newer American generation of Latinos, it’s the easy dish that always takes us home: arroz con huevo frito. This amped up version makes it presentable for company—and a great meatless meal.  Click here for the recipe.

ECUADOREAN POTATO CHEESE SOUP

A very Latin Meatless Monday ecuadorian locro de papa food NBC Latino NewsA thick and heart soup, Ecuador’s classic locro de papa is a meal unto itself. To keep things strictly vegetarian, replace the chicken broth with vegetable broth. Click here for the recipe.

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