(These recipes are available at http://www.meatlessmonday.com/)
For a change of pace, this is a Wednesday feature about a Monday event. There is a growing "Meatless Monday" movement that originated from the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, to encourage Americans to eat healthier. As the movement evolved, it has also gained the support of environmentalists.
The Meatless Monday goal is to "help reduce meat consumption by 15% in order to improve personal health and the health of our planet."
- 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.
Links to Meatless Mondays Around the World:
Think Green - Consider the impact on the environment of everyday lifestyle choices!
Many people have switched to vegetarian diets for the health and environmental reasons listed above, in addition to concern for animal treatment in factory farms and slaughterhouses. However, doing without meat one (or more) days a week is a way for concerned citizens who are not interested in full vegetarianism to make a positive impact on the environment and their own personal health!