Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Green Choices Wednesday

Meatless Monday

(These recipes are available at

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."

Health Benefits:
  • 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. 
Environmental Benefits:
  • 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:
Canada (Quebec)

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!


Barbie said...

That recipe looks soooooo yummy Vern.
I thoroughly enjoy vegetarian cuisine and should probably convert as I feel a whole heap better after it. I think my blood type calls for me to be total vegetarian.

Brian said...

Great post, Vern. I am not a vegetarian, however, I do think that meat should compliment the meal rather than be the meal. The bulk of the meat I eat tends to come from local farms, too. It is more expensive, which does not help to advocate the health and environmental advantages to a cash strapped public. I am sure you are enjoying all of the interesting tidbits associated with our national food supply that is discussed in The Omnivore's Dilemma.

FoodFitnessFreshair said...

Great post. I have a Meatless Monday post scheduled for Monday for those who have yet to hear about it. I think it's a wonderful idea.

Vern said...

Thanks, all, for contributing to a great discussion!

Barb, how far to go with a reduction like this is a personal choice, but whether cutting back or going total vegetarian, either is beneficial for personal health, and for the Earth!

Brian, again a personal choice. My choice was based on health, environmental, and animal treatment concerns. The treatment of animals in the factory farms really is deplorable and inhumane, and cattle are force-fed grain, which is unnatural for them and results in more methane generation.

I call myself a vegetarian, but very occasionally eat a little meat. When we do eat meat, we are looking for grass-fed beef or free-range chickens, where the animals have been able to live more natural lives.

When you look for meat at local farms, you are also witholding support for inhumane mass-production, and buying locally helps the environment. And I know you raise your own chickens, so you know first-hand that they have been raised in a humane way!

Grace, I'll look for your Meatless Monday post! Your blog has a lot of followers; thanks for helping get the word out! I plan to continue to link to the weekly recipe section to keep it visible here!