I am not a vegetarian. Meat has always been a part of my diet. I steadfastly avoided Meatless Mondays in college (their definition of meatless involved far too much tofu). But yesterday, on June 13, in honor of World Meat Free Day, I went meatless.
According to the organization’s sustainability calculator, my three meatless meals saved an amount of water equivalent to 26.7 days of personal use, a dietary fat reduction weight equivalent to 6.6 teaspoons of butter, the same number of calories in 5.9 Jaffa Cakes, and the carbon equivalent of boiling 1,165.2 kettles. Is it obvious yet that this organization is based in the U.K.?
The organization’s tagline is “One Small Step for Our Planet.” By giving up meat for just one day, participants can be inspired to eat less meat throughout the year. According to World Meat Free Day, these benefits can be both personal and global.
The purpose of the event is to prove just how easy cutting down on meat can be. And for the most part, it was. It just required a little reprogramming. Breakfast was simple. I usually save bacon for weekend brunch anyway. World Meat Free Day fell on a chore-filled Monday. In the morning, I grabbed a PopTart (unfrosted so I can pretend I’m not eating pure sugar for breakfast) and rushed out.
By the time I returned, my small breakfast had left me starving and impatient. My typical lazy lunch is a sandwich. I had actually taken out the sandwich meat before realizing my mistake. Luckily, I had the next best thing for a lazy meal: leftovers.
After devouring leftover penne a la vodka, I found myself eyeing the leftover salmon in the fridge. I had a short internal debate over whether or not fish really counted as meat. Despite my ever-lasting love for salmon, I stayed strong and had a large serving of fruit instead.
The real test came later. That evening, friends invited me over for dinner. I accepted the invitation but warned them that I was participating in World Meat Free Day. They apologized. They were grilling lamb chops. Did I still want to come?
I still went. I stuck with the side courses, salad and rice pilaf. Thanks to my big lunch, it was easier to say no when offered the meat course. A few hours later, I went to bed. I had made it. I had successfully joined the thousands of others participating in World Meat Free Day.
In a 36 week school year, if I had participated in every Meatless Monday dinner at my college, the water saved would be equivalent to 320.2 days of personal water use and the carbon equivalent of boiling 13,982.1 kettles.
If my entire school of roughly 2,000 students had participated, the numbers skyrocket. It would save enough water for a single person for 223.6 years. It would save the GWP (global warming potential) equivalent of driving a car for 693,402.8 kilometers (430,860.5 miles). That’s all just from one school year of Meatless Mondays.
I’m still never going to be a vegetarian, but a day without meat is definitely doable. And I don’t have to wait until next year’s World Meat Free Day to do it.