Meat Free Monday: Our favourite day of the week! Hooray!
Oh I think I just heard a collective groan?
Never fear! I won’t let you go hungry, friends.
If you haven’t heard of Meat Free Monday, it’s pretty simple. I won’t insult your intelligence because I’m sure you can figure it out.
The world population is expected to reach over 9 billion people by 2050¹, and with that the demand for meat is also increasing. We know that high meat consumption is related to increased rates of cardiovascular disease and obesity, not to mention horrific stories of animal welfare, and the devastating effects that our meat consumption is having on the environment.
So when people ask me why I went vegetarian, I ask if they would like the long or the short answer (I’m considerate like that) – you guys get the longish answer, because I like you.
The first and foremost reason was animal welfare. Animals are my friends! A cow is a chicken is a fish is a dog, it’s as simple as that, and I can’t see the difference between eating a cow and eating a pet. This became a bit of an ethical dilemma for me, so not eating meat was the easiest solution.
… use ingredients that you have never tried before such as lentils, tofu or that weird vegetable you can’t pronounce, have fun with it!
Next came my health. As nutrition students, I am sure we are all aware of the health benefits of a plant based diet, I won’t go into too much detail, but I know that eating a well-planned vegetarian diet can provide all the vitamins and minerals I need. Please note ‘well-planned’. It is easy to have an unhealthy vegetarian diet, think potato chips and veggie sausages, so it does require a bit of planning to make sure you have all your bases covered. If you are unsure if you are meeting your nutritional requirements, seek the advice of an Accredited Practising Dietitian for a bit of help!
Last, but by no means least, came the environment. Being a conscious consumer is a double edged sword. The more you know and the more you learn, the more you can try and make a change, but also the more helpless and frustrated you feel. Our agricultural production and factory farming industry is so far removed from what a healthy, sustainable world should be that sometimes I want to pull my hair out. Again, my choosing to not eat meat was the simplest action I could take to reduce my environmental impact.
Now, I know from experience that there is no point preaching vegetarianism to a meat eater if they don’t want to hear it, which is completely understandable. I do, however, love sharing my experiences in vegetarianism, and Meat Free Monday is a great start and something that I think everyone should try. By reducing our meat consumption, we can save precious resources such as land and water, consume less saturated fat, and also save a bit of money when it comes to the groceries!²
Still not convinced?
- By substituting red meat for alternative protein sources such as legumes and nuts we can substantially reduce our risk of chronic disease and early mortality.³
- A global reduction in meat consumption can free up millions of hectares of land that could be used for regrowing vegetation, reducing harmful greenhouse gas emissions.4
I know the thought of not eating meat might leave you feeling sad and miserable… but hear me out!
I am a foodie, I love eating, and believe it or not I remember once upon a time when meat tasted good! The idea of not eating meat was a foreign concept to me, and then I just tried it, and guess what? It’s been nearly 5 years now. Don’t see Meat Free Monday as cutting something out of your diet, rather see it as adding something in: use ingredients that you have never tried before such as lentils, tofu or that weird vegetable you can’t pronounce, have fun with it!
Just one day a week meat-free. What’s the big deal?
1) United States Census Bureau. International Database Word Population: 1950-2050. [Revised 2013 December 19, cited 2014 November 15]. Available from http://www.census.gov/population/international/data/idb/worldpopgraph.php
2) Marlow HJ, Hayes WK, Soret S, Carter RL, Schwab ER, Sabaté J. Diet and the environment: does what you eat matter? J Clin Nutr. 2009 May;89(5):1699S-1703S. Epub 2009 Apr 1.
3) Harvard Health Publications. Cutting Red Meat for a Longer Life. [Revised 2012 June, cited 2014 November 20]. Available from http://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletters/Harvard_Mens_Health_Watch/2012/June/cutting-red-meat-for-a-longer-life
4) Stehfest E, Bouwman L, Van Vuuren DP, den Elzen M, Eickhout B, Kabat P. Climate benefits of changing diet. Clim Chang. 2009 Febuary;95:83-102.