The Meatless Monday benefits are many and they include a healthier environment and quite possibly, a healthier you! In this article, I will tell you all about what the Meatless Monday movement is, why it got started, and the impact it makes.
What Is Meatless Monday?
First, I will fill you in on what Meatless Monday is. This explanation is for both of those of you hearing of it for the first time and those of you wanting a deeper explanation for where it comes from and when it came along. Meatless Monday is the movement to reduce meat consumption by committing to eating meat-free at least one day a week.
If you are interested in the history of Meatless Monday, the idea first came into common play in 1917 when the President asked the nation to do voluntary meatless days as a way to ration our supplies and support efforts during World War I. The term first began to come back into popularity in 2003 at a health conference discussing what could be done to improve the nation’s health. Then it had it’s breakthrough moment in 2009, when best-selling author and food advocate Michael Pollan endorsed Meatless Monday during the Oprah Winfrey show. This is when millions of viewers were introduced to the concept of cutting meat consumption once a week.
Why Meatless Monday?
The answer to why Meatless Monday is two fold. Choosing to reduce your meat consumption by adopting Meatless Monday is a healthy choice. It is also a great way to impact the health of the environment in a positive way. These two benefits of Meatless Monday are so great that I truly believe everyone will be excited to join the Meatless Monday movement when they learn about how beneficial it is!
An In Depth Look At Meatless Monday Benefits
Meatless Monday Health Benefits
Why should you try Meatless Monday? The first answer is that Meatless Monday is a healthier choice for you. In 2003, at the health conference I mentioned above, Robert Lawrence, Dean of Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future, suggested one simple change that could improve the nation’s health, “If we eat 15% less meat, we’d be a lot healthier.”
Just think about it. One easy choice that could improve the whole nation’s health- you gotta love that! And on top of that, it will probably save most people money because meat is usually more expensive than other proteins sources like beans, tofu, or lentils.
Most Americans die from non-communicable diseases such as heart, stroke, obesity, and diabetes. These are largely diseases brought on by lifestyle choices. As the Mayo Clinic says, ” people who don’t eat meat — vegetarians — generally eat fewer calories and less fat, weigh less, and have a lower risk of heart disease than nonvegetarians do. Even reducing meat intake has a protective effect. Research shows that people who eat red meat are at an increased risk of death from heart disease, stroke or diabetes. Processed meats also increase the risk of death from these diseases. And what you don’t eat can also harm your health. Diets low in nuts, seeds, seafood, fruits and vegetables also increase the risk of death.”
In other words, you can make choices to impact your health. But you knew that already! Meatless Monday is a health campaign with a simple motto, for one day a week, cut out the meat. This simple action can improve your health! I hope you feel empowered because knowledge is half the battle. Meatless Monday benefits your health. You can do this! Of course, it doesn’t really matter that you do it on Monday but that just makes it an easy weekly habit that you won’t forget and we all know that healthy habits are the best kind and the key to results!
Meatless Monday Benefits For The Environment
Some of you may have heard that choosing a plant based diet is actually a great way to go green. I found this rather surprising at first but there are actually several ways that leaving meat out of your diet is beneficial to the environment.
How does Meatless Monday help the environment?
Leaving meat out of your diet or reducing your meat consumption reduces your carbon footprint. Yes, but by how much, really? That is what I wanted to know and I was surprised to find by quite a lot actually! According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, farmed animals produce more greenhouse gas emissions (18 percent) than the world’s entire transportation system (13.5 percent). Wow! Nitrous oxide and methane are also huge contributors to global warming and according to the FAO, livestock is responsible for as much as 37 percent of anthropogenic methane and 65 percent of anthropogenic nitrous oxide. To put this into perspective, nitrous oxide is almost 300 times as damaging to the climate as carbon dioxide.
Meat consumption also effects land use. Livestock production leads to deforestation to create pastures- in fact, it is responsible for 70% of the Amazon deforestation in Latin America. Not only does deforestation contribute to releasing huge amounts of carbon dioxide but it also reduces biodiversity and the quality of the land. Livestock activity on grazing lands can lead to compaction and soil erosion.
Meatless Monday can also help the environment through improved water quality and availability. Livestock production negatively impacts the world water supply. Meat production, especially the feeding of cattle, is a particularly water-intensive process. Besides being in direct competition for clean water itself which is becoming a more scarce resource (the FAO estimated that by 2025 there will be 1.8 billion people living with absolute water scarcity and two thirds of the world’s population could be living under water-stressed conditions), livestock production also contributes to water pollution. Clean water is polluted with animal wastes, antibiotics, hormones, and the fertilizers and pesticides used for feed crops. In a 2005 report, the Natural Resources Defense Council noted that pollutants from animal waste have contributed to a “dead zone” in the Gulf of Mexico where there is not enough oxygen to support aquatic life. Additionally livestock production is responsible for two-thirds of anthropogenic ammonia which contributes significantly to acid rain.
Wow. I was skeptical at first but clearly reducing meat consumption does have a huge impact on the environment! I hope you found this information as eye opening as I did that Meatless Monday benefits the environment in a big way.
Does Meatless Monday Include Seafood Or Fish?
For those of you thinking of turning to seafood, it is also not without its own adverse impact. Industrial fishing practices such as bottom trawling are destroying fragile eco-systems and wiping out whole populations of sea creatures. If you think that overfishing can be solved by fish farming, think again. Fish farming still places a strain on ocean stocks because wild caught fish are often used to raise the farm fish. For example, the Worldwatch Institute says that it takes five tons of wild-caught fish to feed each ton of farmed salmon.
Plant Based Diets Are More Environmentally Efficient
Choosing a plant based diet has such a dramatically lower impact on the environment because the food is directly consumed rather than needing to be converted into meat at an inefficient rate. In a 2000 issue of Ecological Economics, Thomas White says that cattle require approximately seven kilos of grain in order to generate one kilo of beef and pigs require four kilos of grain for one kilo of pork.
As you decide to try a few meatless meals a week, consider that going organic vegan has the least environmental impact while beef is the meat that has the highest impact. Another convincing statistic provided by the FAO is that with one hectare of land, a farmer can feed up to 30 people people on a vegan diet throughout the year but only 5-10 people if the same area is used for the production of eggs, milk and/or meat. With these facts in mind, as well as the demand for meat growing with the growing population, you may want to consider adding a few meatless meals to your diet and reducing your environmental impact. If you decide to go vegan as a lifestyle choice (instead of on just Mondays), I suggest doing a little research to make sure you get a balanced diet as it takes an adjustment if you are not used to it.
If you are not ready to give up meat, don’t worry; you can just commit to adding a meatless day or two to your diet each week- like Meatless Monday! As you experiment with new recipes you may find that giving up meat can be tastier than you thought! On that note, I’d like to share a few ideas for Meatless Monday with you below.
Meatless Monday Recipes:
There are little endless Meatless Monday recipes because it is really any meal without meat but here are few yummy ones to get you started!
Meatless Monday Statistics
In case there is any doubt in your mind that Meatless Monday is an amazing idea that everyone should adopt, consider this:
According to Mathematics For Sustainability, “A Meatless Monday advocate saves about 1,915 pounds of CO2e per year compared to a typical American. Almost 1 ton of CO2e!”
According to NorthShore University HealthSystem, “There have been studies that show consuming a lot of red meat can increase your chances for colorectal cancer. Even if you do not eat a lot of red meat, a diet rich in vegetables can decrease the risk for cancer as they are full of antioxidants and other nutrients.”
Try Meatless Monday Yourself!
Meatless Monday can improve our health. Meatless Monday can reduce your carbon footprint. Furthermore, Meatless Monday can help the world in the race to reduce climate change. Try it!
Have you decided to try Meatless Mondays yet? Challenge yourself to try it for a month. I bet you will love it and keep doing it! What are some of your favorite Meatless dinner ideas?