“When we eat we are taking the world into our bodies; that’s a very profound thing. We are changed by what we eat and we in turn change what we are eating. Our most profound engagement with the natural world happens on our plates.”
~ Michael Pollan, Author, Journalist, Activist, and Professor
Meatless Monday is exactly what is sounds like — adopting an entirely plant-based diet one day a week (at the least). Why a plant-based diet? Because going meatless is good for you and great for the planet.
The average American consumes around 193 pounds of beef, pork or chicken a year, roughly ½ pound of meat a day! This high volume has to come from somewhere, and unfortunately most comes from animal agriculture, one of the leading contributors to climate change, habitat destruction, and deforestation. The U.N. Food & Agriculture Organization (FAO) attributes 14.5% of global emissions to the world’s livestock farms. To put that in perspective, transportation accounts for only 13 percent.
Eating meat hasn’t always been this problematic. Factory farms generate tons of toxic manure that sits in waste dumps and produces` methane, a greenhouse gas emission 25x more powerful than carbon dioxide. According to the EPA, “a single dairy cow produces about 120 pounds of wet manure per day, which is equivalent to the waste produced by 20–40 people.” And because the livestock are not fed a natural diet, their waste cannot be used as fertilizer.
Together, rapid growth, unsanitary living conditions, and overcrowding cause a host of health problems that are commonly treated with antibiotics. In fact, 80% of antibiotics sold in the U.S. are for livestock. It’s impossible to separate meat consumption from antibiotic resistance, which is on the rise. When we eat meat, we are consuming whatever was placed in or eaten by the animal.
A recent study found that American’s choices to eat less meat has reduced emissions by the equivalent of pollution from 57 million cars — despite population growth of about 9 percent. Even if you’re not ready to give up meat entirely, simply cutting back on the amount of meat you eat per day or per week can add up in huge ways! What steps will you take to reduce your “meat footprint” today?
Many people believe meat is the only way to get enough protein and energy into their bodies, but that actually isn’t true. Plenty of plant-based options have all the nutrients our bodies need. In fact, plant-based options are often healthier since they aren’t laden with the saturated fats, cholesterol, and added hormones contained in most conventional meat.
- Watch this video from the Monday Campaigns about the benefits on Meatless Monday.
While starvation is still a rampant problem across the globe, obesity has become a significant issue in most developed countries, especially in the United States. For the first time in our nation’s history, our children, one-third of whom are overweight or obese, may have a shorter lifespan as a result of obesity.
- Pick an upcoming Monday to go Meatless and invite a friend or family member to join. Incorporate as many fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes, and plant proteins as you can. Remember to prioritize local and seasonal foods to support your farmers and cut back on costs!
- Record what you eat for the day and ask yourself the following questions:
- Was it easier or harder than you thought to go meatless for the day?
- How do you feel after a day of no meat?
- Do you think you’ll continue to participate in Meatless Mondays or consider adopting a plant based, vegetarian, vegan, or flexitarian diet?
Blogs, forums, videos and websites dedicated to plant-based eating have created a powerful online community. Offline we are seeing chefs, restaurants, businesses and grocery stores meeting consumer demand by creating and providing meatless options.
Make Meatless Monday even easier going forward. Spend 30 minutes searching the web for 5-10 meatless recipes that are easy to make. Bookmark them so you know what to make for dinner next Monday, and the Monday (or Tuesday) after that!
Find a new favorite recipe? Share with us @TurningGreenOrg using #ConventionalToConscious and #meatlessmonday.