“Even one meatless day a week – a Meatless Monday, which is what we do in my household – if everybody in America did that, that would be the equivalent of taking 20 million mid-size sedans off the road” – Michael Pollan, American author, journalist, activist, and professor of journalism at the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism
Fruits, veggies and grains = powerhouse foods. They’re loaded with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, which reduce the risk of cancer, heart disease and other chronic illnesses. Going plant-based at least once a week, Monday for example, broadens your culinary horizons, opens you up to tasty new foods, and provides a multitude of physical, mental, emotional and spiritual benefits. Good for your body. Good for the planet.
Compared to the rest of the world, Americans are the second largest consumers of meat, right after Australia. We’re talking an average of 198 pounds per person, per year. That has major implications on our planet, considering that animal agriculture is one of the leading contributors to climate change, habitat destruction, and deforestation. The U.N. Food & Agriculture Organization attribute 14.5 percent of global emissions to the world’s livestock farms. Factory farmed animals or CAFO’s (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations) also generate toxic manure, which pollutes our air and water.
And here’s more reason to think about what you put on your plate – at a single factory farm, hundreds of animals are packed under one roof, treated inhumanely through unsanitary conditions, and fed unnatural diets of GMO grains and legumes that are grown with toxic pesticides. They’re often pumped with growth hormones to reach (far from natural) super sizes, resulting in countless health problems that are treated with antibiotics. And with antibiotic resistance on the rise, this isn’t just bad news for the cattle. As consumers, we ultimately suffer big health consequences as well.
Good news: People and entire countries globally are already working to tackle this issue. Just this year, the Chinese government announced their plan to cut meat consumption by 50% – an initiative that could reduce greenhouse gas emissions by one billion metric tons by 2030 and improve rates of chronic disease. That’s a big deal.
Our diets affect more than our personal health. And plant-based eating doesn’t have to be complicated. Access to delicious and nutritious veggie alternatives – as shown by our partner Amy’s Kitchen – is growing at an exponential rate. Now you can even get a (meatless) burger, (organic) fries and a (vegan) shake at the first “fast-food” restaurant of its kind, Amy’s Drive Thru in Rohnert Park, CA. Imagine that on every college campus in the country!
But if and when you do eat meat, do so responsibly. As Dr. Mark Hyman, a world-renown MD suggests, “opt for certified organic, 100% pasture-raised animal products” and treat “meat as a condiment” or as he puts it “condimeat.” Embracing a lifestyle that is good for you and the planet is all about shifting mindset. Our partner EWG has developed an entire Meat Eaters Guide to inform consumers on the impact of a meat-based diet, and how you can improve your health. What steps will you take to reduce your “meat footprint” today? Check out today’s GOOD READ for some inspiration!
There are many great benefits to cutting meat out of your diet, even for just one day a week. Removing one pound of beef a week from your diet (the equivalent of about four burgers), conserves more water than not showering for two whole weeks!
Don’t worry if you didn’t score so well; what matters is how much you learn.
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While starvation is still a global problem, obesity has become a huge issue in developed countries, most notably in the United States. We’re facing a public health crisis, the likes of which we’ve never seen before. For the first time in our nation’s history, our children (generation RX), one-third of who are overweight or obese, may be dealt a shorter lifespan than their parents.
Now that you’re a bit more familiar with the impact Meatless Monday can have, give it a try, and enlist a friend to do the same. If you’re already a vegetarian/vegan, here are some easy points. But not so fast – make sure the friend you recruit for this challenge typically consumes meat.
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Blogs, forums, videos and websites dedicated to plant-based eating have collectively cultivated a powerful online community. Offline, chefs, restaurants, businesses and grocery stores are meeting consumer demand by creating, providing and vigilantly seeking out meatless options.
Think of the impact you could have if you got your cafeteria or campus dining hall to participate in Meatless Mondays. Purchasing less meat overall could enable your dining hall to buy protein of higher quality (local, organic, and humanely raised) on a more regular basis.
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