I know I missed the start of the new year by a two Mondays, but I am ready to commit to Meatless Mondays. Last year, I always had a reason that I had to have meat on Mondays. And I rationalized that in a normal week I don’t eat meat on at least two or three days of the week. I thought that was good enough. I would have my own meatless day of the week, but the more I think about it, the more important I think it is to stand up as part of a group.
Why do I support Meatless Mondays? – I think that meat is a healthy and important part of our diets. I do not think that everyone needs to become a vegetarian in order to be healthy or environmentally responsible. However, we need to be a lot more responsible in the amount of meat we eat. Did you know that Americans are downing close to 200 pounds of meat, poultry and fish per capita per year (dairy and eggs are separate, and hardly insignificant), an increase of 50 pounds per person from 50 years ago. We each consume something like 110 grams of protein a day, about twice the federal government’s recommended allowance; of that, about 75 grams come from animal protein. (NY Times) And the thing that gets me is people are constantly worried about not getting enough protein. Even vegetarians do not need to consume eggs or cheese at every meal to ensure they get enough protein. (In case you are worried about protein sources check out this link for protein rich additives)
I would venture a guess that giving up meat for most Americans is terrifying. In addition to this fear of not getting enough protein, they probably don’t not know to build a hearty meal without meat. I think by going meatless one day you can prove to yourself that its not that hard. It will force you to diversify your menu and cooking repertoire a little bit and once you have done it for a few weeks, you might even start eating less meat on other days of the week. (Recipes)
A little more about Meatless Mondays:
- They have their own website: http://www.meatlessmonday.com
Going meatless once a week may reduce your risk of chronic preventable conditions like cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and obesity. It can also help reduce your carbon footprint and save precious resources like fresh water and fossil fuel.
Read about these benefits below. But keep in mind that just going meatless is not enough. That’s why we give you the information you need to add healthy, environmentally friendly meat-free alternatives to your diet each week.
- REDUCE RISK OF HEART DISEASE. Beans, peas, lentils, nuts and seeds contain little to no saturated fats. Reducing your intake of saturated fats can help keep your cholesterol low and reduce your risk of heart disease.
- MAINTAIN HEALTHY WEIGHT. A plant-based diet is a great source of fiber, which is absent in animal products. Foods rich in fiber make you feel full with fewer calories, resulting in lower calorie intake and less overeating. On average, Americans get less than half the recommended daily quantity of fiber.
- IMPROVE OVERALL QUALITY OF DIET. Consuming dry beans or peas results in higher intakes of fiber, protein, folate, zinc, iron and magnesium with lower intakes of saturated fat and total fat.
- REDUCE YOUR CARBON FOOTPRINT. The United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization estimates the meat industry generates nearly one-fifth of the man-made greenhouse gas emissions that are accelerating climate change worldwide . . . far more than transportation. And annual worldwide demand for meat continues to grow. Reining in meat consumption once a week can help slow this trend.
- MINIMIZE WATER USAGE. The water needs of livestock are tremendous, far above those of vegetables or grains. An estimated 1,800 to 2,500 gallons of water go into a single pound of beef. Soy tofu produced in California requires 220 gallons of water per pound.
- HELP REDUCE FOSSIL FUEL DEPENDENCE. On average, about 40 calories of fossil fuel energy go into every calorie of feed lot beef in the U.S. Compare this to the 2.2 calories of fossil fuel energy needed to produce one calorie of plant-based protein. Moderating meat consumption is a great way to cut fossil fuel demand.
Plus some history on the movement: http://www.meatlessmonday.com/history/
People besides me that participate in Meatless Mondays:
University of Maryland – GO TERPS!
Charm City government leaders
Baltimore City Public Schools (BCPS)
University of California, Davis
Sir Paul McCartney
St. Catherine’s School (Richmond, VA)
Huffington Post GREEN
Read about others here!