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Celebrate Meatless Monday With the Founder's Favorite Meal

We love making chopped salads, like this Greek option with pita croutons, as a main dish on Mondays. (Photo by Joseph Deleo)

Last week at Food Day, we were able to connect with Sid Lerner, founder and chairman of the growing Meatless Monday movement. The group asks us all to cut back or eliminate meat on Mondays, with an overall goal to reduce meat consumption by 15 percent worldwide. Lerner resurrected the Meatless Monday trend in 2003 with this focus on health and the environment. It originated during World War I to help conserve resources for the war effort. "People have different reasons why they participate, whether it's ethical, or to lower fat and cholesterol intake," Lerner says. "It's a small change you can try each week that's good for you and good for the planet." Reducing meat consumption can lower the overall carbon footprint (did you know animals raised for meat emit more gas than our transportation systems?) and water usage (1,800 to 2,500 gallons of water go into a single pound of beef, while one pound of tofu requires 220 gallons). Lerner mentioned that, thanks to support from big names like Oprah, Paul McCartney and Mario Batali, 50 percent of Americans polled in a recent survey said they are aware of Meatless Mondays, and 28 percent claim that it affects how they eat. We couldn't think of a more fitting way than pulling our slow cookers out of the back of our cabinets to give one of Lerner's favorite Monday recipes a try! "I love chili. It's tasty, colorful, high in protein and you can make it a million ways. I like to say, 'If you think chili needs meat, you don't know beans,'" Lerner says. For a one-pot meal to try on future Meatless Mondays, keep reading.

Slow Cooker Corn Chili Courtesy of

As they say in the commercial world, this is one dish you can set and forget! (Photo courtesy of Meatless Monday)

Serves 6

  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 28-ounce can fire-roasted tomatoes
  • 1 15.5-ounce can black beans, rinsed
  • 1 15.5-ounce can kidney beans, rinsed
  • 1 1/2 cups frozen corn
  • Optional: cilantro, scallions and radishes for garnish
  1. Place the onion, garlic, chili powder, cumin, cocoa, cinnamon, salt and pepper together in a 4 to 6 quart slow cooker.
  2. Add the tomatoes with their liquid, beans, frozen corn and 1 cup water to the slow cooker.
  3. Cook on low for 7 to 8 hours, or cook on high for 4 to 5 hours, or until the onions are tender and the chili has thickened.
  4. Divide into six portions, top with cilantro, scallions and radishes if you like.

Nutrition information per serving: 248 calories, 2 g fat (0.5 g saturated fat)