Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Soap Box Wednesday: The Meatless Monday Movement

In general I consider myself a bit of a non-conformist. I don't jump on bandwagons easily, if at all. I still hate maxi dresses. I think labradoodles are ugly (and a waste of money if you're looking for a hypoallergenic dog, get a poodle! [I'm biased, see side bar]). And up until Monday, I refused to get on "the twitter" during almost an entire year of blogging, and yes I do and shall continue to call it "the twitter". It's just in my nature to be skeptical of and hesitant to adopt new trends--usually. But, there's usually an exception to every rule, even when it comes to behaviors, and the Meatless Monday movement is my exception.

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.
There's a reason why this is a Monday Campaign, and it's not just because alliteration sells. For most people, the week starts on Monday, and it signals the shift from the freedom of the weekend to the structure of the work week. Monday may be the least favorite day of the week, but it sets our intentions for the next six days. As human beings, we're creatures of habits, and from an early age we internalize the rhythm of our lives. Which is why Monday is the perfect day to make a change for your health.

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. 
The water needs of livestock are ridiculous, and significantly greater than those of vegetables and grains. Think about it, cow's are big sumbitches. An estimated 1,800 to 2500 gallons of water go into a single pound of beef, whereas soy tofu in California requires 220 gallons per pound. You do the math...
  • Reducing your meat consumption helps minimize water usage
And..AND, on average about 40 calories of fossil fuel energy go into every calorie of grain fed beef in the US, compared to the 2.2 calories per calorie of plant-based protein.
  • 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?

Merry Wednesday!

1 comment:

  1. I'm all for eating less meat, as long as you choose healthy foods as alternatives. I know obese vegetarians who live off of cheese, bread, and ice cream... not exactly a healthier alternative to chicken and steak.

    I love beans and other healthy vegetarian foods, but when I tell friends and coworkers that I eat beans, onions, peppers, and other "stinky" foods, they turn up their noses. They'd much rather eat steak. I'm watching my weight and I can't lose weight bulking up on pasta and grilled cheese, so I opt for filling foods that have protein like beans, quinoa, and Greek yogurt.

    The real problem is that so many Americans don't know how to cook and are literally addicted to processed foods. I know people who prefer Velveeta to cheddar or instant oatmeal to old-fashioned. We can do better, people.



Related Posts with Thumbnails

Disqus for Eat, Read, Rant!