The initiative is run by the World Health Organization and World Heart Federation, which organise events such as health checks, fun runs, carnivals and concerts in more than 100 countries to raise awareness of heart disease.
Cardiovascular disease is the world’s largest killer, cutting short the lives of 17.3 million people every year.
As well as eating too much meat and not enough vegetables, the risk of heart disease and stroke can be increased by smoking, high cholesterol and blood pressure, carrying excess weight and not exercising enough.
In May last year a Harvard study found that eating processed meat increases is more than twice as likely to lead to a heart attack as eating red meat, although both contain the same amount of cholesterol and saturated fat. Salt and preservatives in processed meat are thought to account for the disparity.
In July 2010, a study by Imperial College London revealed that people who ate a lot of meat were more likely to put on weight than those who ate less, even if their diets contained the same amount of calories. The research also disproved the effectiveness of high-protein weight-loss regimes such as the meat-heavy Atkins Diet.
And former US president Bill Clinton revealed how cutting meat out of his diet saw his cholesterol levels and general health improve drastically, following a quadruple heart bypass operation.
It all goes to show, for a healthy heart – and a healthy everything else – Meat Free Monday is the way to go. Be good to yourself on World Heart Day.