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Meatless Mondays

Natural Times, April/May/June 2014

By Crystal Wakoa

Humans tend to be creatures of habit. We buy familiar foods and cook the same meals over and over again. While there’s nothing wrong with repeating what works well, sometimes we need a little kick in the pants to make a modest change in a more sustainable direction. Enter Meatless Monday, a non-profit health initiative to improve the health of you, your family and your planet.

Reinvented in 2003 by an advertising pro with a healthy mission, in conjunction with the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Meatless Monday provides a motivational handle that anybody can grab hold of, especially those that care about their health but don’t want to sign on to a vegan or vegetarian diet.

Why Mondays? To us clock-bound critters, Mondays represent a clean slate. If you ate poorly over the weekend, Monday is an opportunity to chuck those bad habits and begin anew. Both the Meatless Monday and New Leaf websites provide nutritionally complete recipes: http://www.meatlessmonday.com/favorite-recipes/, http://www.newleafmarket.coop/recipes.

The personal benefits of reducing meat consumption are many: reducing the risks of heart disease, diabetes, cancer and obesity; and improving one’s overall health and longevity by eating more legumes, fruits and vegetables.

But the bigger story of Meatless Monday is one of sacrifice. The US government advocated Meatless Monday and Wheatless Wednesday during World War I to help the war effort. The response was overwhelming – 13 million families signed the pledge. In November 1917, New York City hotels proudly announced saving 116 tons of meat during the course of one week.

Today, the stakes are every bit as high as a world war, although less visible—at least to those who choose not to look.

Industrial livestock production consumes and pollutes oceans of precious water. Between 1,800 and 2,500 gallons of water are required to produce a single pound of beef. Compare this with 220 gallons of water needed to produce a pound of tofu.

And it takes a lot of fossil fuel to raise a cow on a feedlot. Nearly one-fifth of the man-made greenhouse gas emissions that are accelerating global climate change are produced by the meat industry—far more than for transportation. One meatless day per week would go a long way toward reducing our carbon footprint.

So please, even if you’re a happy carnivore, consider forgoing meat for a day. A little bit of sacrifice goes a long way toward healing our Earth. Your body will thank you, too.

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