Meatless Monday is a nationwide campaign, and globally focused goal, to reduce the population's meat consumption by 15% in order to improve individuals' personal health and the health of the planet. It is a non-profit initiative of The Monday Campaigns, in association with Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, that provides the information and recipes, savvy readers such as you and me need to start each week with healthy, environmentally friendly meat-free alternatives.
The health benefits of eating less meat are pretty obvious, but let's review them, shall we? On average, Americans consume 8 oz per day--45% more than what the USDA recommends (5.5oz/day). Reducing your meat intake may reduce your risk for chronic preventable conditions, like cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and obesity.
- There is a plethora of scientific data that demonstrates diets high in fruits and vegetables may reduce cancer risk--both red (beef, lamb, goat, venison, and even duck) and processed meat (anything that looks vastly different from slaughter to packaging--deli meats, anything from taco bell, etc) consumption is associated with colon cancer and type 2 diabetes.
- A recent Harvard University study found that replacing saturated fat-rich foods, like meat and full fat dairy, with vegetable oils, nuts and seeds significantly reduces your risk for heart disease
- Individuals on a low-meat or vegetarian diets have significantly lower body weights and body mass indices. A recent study also found that reducing overall meat consumptions can prevent long-term weight gain.
But wait, there's more...
Eating less meat, is also green! You might not know this, but I'm a little bit of a tree hugger. I think recycling is awesome, and acknowledge that global warming is very fucking real. The UN's Food & Agriculture Organization estimates the meat industry generates 1/5 of the man-made greenhouse gas emissions that are contributing to global warming; far more than transportation!And as the world's population continues to grow, so does the demand for meat.
- Reducing meat consumption by a minimum of once a week can reduce your carbon footprint.
- Reducing your meat consumption helps minimize water usage
- Reducing meat consumption is a great way to cut fossil fuel demand, and further delay the inevitable WW3 over oil likely our near future.
Personally, I've taken the MM movement a few steps further, and for the last two and half months have fully adopted a flexatarian diet, and by that I mean, I've cut meat out of my diet at least three days of the week. Yes I'm serious. While I would never, ever, eva eva eva eva go completely vegetarian, and I'm convinced that veganism is a cult, much like Scientology, I certainly value the health benefits of eating significantly less meat, and the green aspect is just a plus. I also kind of got tired of my older sister being able to call me out on my meatatarian ways and dropping a ton of money on meat at the grocery store. So I took the plunge, and I have to say, it's been a lot easier than I thought it would be in terms of sticking to it. It's also a lot cheaper to buy less meat, and even though I get stuck in a food rut, I've found myself buying vegetables that I used to never look at, like Swiss chard, cabbage, beets, and jicama. The way I see it, it's a win-win, and I strongly encourage you to give a try, what have you got to lose?