There has been a lot of talk these days about how going vegetarian or vegan one day per week can improve your health, while also decreasing your environmental impact. Celebs like Paul McCartney are champions of the cause, and eco-minded sites like TreeHugger (www.treehugger.com) and The Daily Green (www.thedailygreen.com) have helped spread the word about this worldwide campaign, which is quickly gaining popularity.
While this is clearly a step towards reducing the number of animals raised for food, meat-free Mondays are about more than the argument of whether or not we should be eating animals. Experts say that reducing meat consumption would mean lower healthcare costs, decreased air and water pollution, fewer early deaths and significantly lower energy consumption. It also means that more rain forest land would be kept intact, rather than turned into pastureland for grazing.
Even the United Nations has chimed in with the chair of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Dr. Rajendra Pachauri, urging people around the world to reduce their consumption of meat to reduce greenhouse gases and the destruction of habitat.
Part of the issue, particularly in the US where the average resident consumes twice as much meat as those living in other countries, is that most of us are not aware of the profoundness of the meat industry’s impact on the environment, the economy and even the number of people going hungry around the world.
But, to bring it closer to home, consuming mass quantities of meat (most Americans eat significantly more than recommended) can have devastating effects on your health. Think about it: What are the first two dietary changes doctors tell patients to make after they are diagnosed with cancer, heart disease or any number of other ailments and conditions? More often than not, they recommend that patients reduce or eliminate their consumption of dairy and red meat. This is usually followed by a recommendation to increase intake of dietary fiber, fruits and vegetables.
Choosing to go meat-free one day per week is a great way to reduce your meat consumption, while testing out healthy recipes that will help you increase your intake of whole grains, vegetables and fruits. It is also the perfect opportunity to learn about all of the different protein sources available that do not come from animals. This is made even easier by the vast array of meat substitutes on the market.
If global warming, animal welfare, serious health risks, the growing obesity epidemic and the cost of healthcare are not enough to convince you to give up meat just one day each week, maybe this will: It can also save you money. Meat is expensive and reducing your meat consumption can significantly lower your food expenses, while also reducing your family’s impact on the environment and improving your health.
If you are already vegetarian, try going vegan one day per week. If you are already vegan, choose one day per week to go raw.