Meatless Mondays

Even after reading Michael Pollan’s books describing the obscene ways much of our “food” gets to our plates, or after watching the stream of heart-breaking images and unnerving statistics displayed throughout the film Food Inc., many still find the plunge of giving up meat to be oh-so incredibly difficult.

It’s almost undeniable at this point, with so many expositional investigative journalism pieces having been published unmasking the topic, that a balanced vegetarian lifestyle is healthier for both our bodies, the planet, and the other various creatures that inhabit it.  Research has shown that vegetarians tend to have lower rates of heart disease, diabetes, and many cancers, and tend to be slimmer throughout their longer-than-average lives.

Yet, even with this knowledge, for some, shedding the meat is as difficult as shedding the covers to get out of bed on a cold, early morning.  It just seems so uninviting and painful to do so.  Maybe it’s the taste, or the memories and connections it evokes, or simply the oblivion to the millions of stimulating vegetarian ingredients available, but whatever it is, most Americans just cannot seem to chuck the chicken from their diet.  According to a study done by Vegetarian Times Magazine, as little as 3.2% of the U.S. population of adults are completely meat-free.  That leaves a remaining 96.8% of the population delving into some meaty dishes.

Those meat-filled meals contribute to more than a substantial amount of man-made greenhouse gas emissions.  In fact, the raising of livestock for food accounts for as much as 20% of greenhouse gas emissions each year.  This makes sense if you look at the impacts of just cows alone.  Every time a cow needs to take a #2 or let one rip, they release methane, a greenhouse gas 23 times more potent than carbon dioxide.  And let’s not forget how much land is set aside to feed these shackled animals.  Almost 50% of U.S. corn goes to feeding animals, and as much as 77% of soybeans you may see covering the fields are being sent to the mouths of livestock to fatten those babies up.

With the health and environmental impacts being exhibited, it seems worthy that the vegetarian-diet can at least be considered without having meat-eaters automatically conjure up negative connotations of those “hippie, health freak, boring” vegetarians in their minds every time they encounter a meat-free fellow.  If you cherish meat and don’t think that you yourself are ready to completely call it quits with flesh, even after the eye-opening education, at least consider showing some respect for those who do.  And even if you don’t think you’ll ever travel down the path of being a vegetarian, why not at least consider cutting back on your meat consumption, both for your health and the health of our mother Earth…even if it’s just for a day?  The simple act of cutting back on meat really doesn’t prove to be that difficult, yet it can make an incredible difference for you and the environment.  This leads me to introduce to you, my readers, Meatless Mondays.

I’m sure many of you have heard of Meatless Mondays and may even have made a commitment to follow the initiative’s proposal, but for those who haven’t, listen up.  The Meatless Monday initiative calls for one to eliminate meat from their diet every Monday.  One day a week doesn’t sound so hard does it, and just this one day can do wonders.  According to Bloomberg Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, the founders of the Meatless Mondays Movement, if all Americans skipped their daily 8-ounces of meat just one day a week, we could save more greenhouse gas emissions in one year than if we quit traveling by cars, planes, trains, and ships combined.  That’s a lot of emissions.

There’s really few reasons not to give this proposal a try.  One day a week is almost sure to positively impact the health of your body and your pocket.  Eating meat-free doesn’t have to be expensive.  Beans and grains are cheaper than any steak you’ll find at the store.  Consider treating each Monday as a holiday, an easy way to make-over those no-good Mondays and transform them into days you can actually look forward to.  In my next post, I’ll discuss some easy ways to make Meatless Mondays fun and exciting.  In the meantime, consider becoming part of the Meatless Monday crew.

Trust me, vegetarian certainly doesn’t equate to boring….so you can immediately cross that off of the list of excuses you may have forming in your head not to try going meat-free on Mondays.  Think of it as an adventure.

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  • Reply
    Tracey @ I'm Not Superhuman
    April 12, 2010 at 2:19 pm

    It’s so true that going meatless one or more times during the week is helpful if you’re trying to cut costs. I usually only eat it a couple times a week—if that—because it’s so much more expensive!

  • Reply
    Vern
    April 12, 2010 at 2:44 pm

    Great post and great message, Grace!

    I call myself a vegetarian, but have occasionally eaten a small amount of meat once in a great while, and if buying meat, will look for natural grass-fed/free-range. The inhumane conditions in the factory farms really is sickening.

    I made the almost complete (maybe 99%) break near the end of 2009, and I really feel better without the meaty diet! My family has been steadily decreasing meat consumption for years, as a result of becoming increasingly in tune with the health, environmental, and animal treatment issues involved.

    A post in your blog a in December, 2009, introduced me to the term “flexitarian,” which I credit with helping me overcome a mental block that making the leap to vegetarian was an “all-or-nothing” proposition. This led me to a transitional phase which has resulted in a virtually meatless diet.

    Thanks!

  • Reply
    Simply Life
    April 12, 2010 at 4:43 pm

    Great post and I hope the info continues to be spread around and informing others!

  • Reply
    Stephanie from Juicy Fresh Bites
    April 12, 2010 at 6:08 pm

    I love how you said that we should think about going meatless as an adventure! That is such a great message since people tend to think about cutting out meat from their diet as deprivation, and it is definitely time to turn that mindset around. Cutting meat is not deprivation, rather it should be treated as a golden opportunity to explore more new foods and new ways of cooking (like you said, people should treat it as an adventure!).

  • Reply
    Elisa Sutherland
    April 13, 2010 at 9:49 am

    I love the idea of going meatless for one day a week, but it would be very hard for me to go without it much longer. I used to hate meat and avoid it at all costs. I was always a little chubby and could never seem to lose the weight. Strangely, meat started to become delicious and when it became part of my diet the weight was gone and I felt stronger and healthier than I ever had in my life. I’ve always attributed this weight loss to eating meat regularly and have kept the weight off for a few years now without limiting myself. Maybe I’m fooling myself, but maybe every body is just different.

  • Reply
    Steven
    April 13, 2010 at 11:24 am

    More like meatless years for me, but every bit helps.

    I take vegan cookies to share with co-workers and give to clients so they know vegan doesn’t mean brown rice and cubes of tofu. I also wear a “vegan gym” shirt when I workout so people can see that a pretty darn fit person can still be vegan.
    Positive Massage Therapy

  • Reply
    Tweets that mention Meatless Mondays « Food-Fitness-FreshAir -- Topsy.com
    April 29, 2010 at 4:52 am

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Grace Dickinson. Grace Dickinson said: Make your Monday meatless http://foodfitnessfreshair.com/2010/04/12/meatless-mondays/ […]

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    A Vegetarian Thanksgiving « Food-Fitness-FreshAir
    November 18, 2010 at 12:30 pm

    […] cleaner style of eating as well, with tons of bloggers and other everyday citizens participating in Meat Free Mondays, a recent initiative designed to encourage people to go meatless at least one day per […]

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