Why Meatless Monday Should Be One Of Your New Year's Resolutions
Lacto-ovo vegetarian, vegan, pescatarian, plant based; we get it, labels can be confusing and a lot to handle in our fast-paced lives. Plus, with so many different types of meat-limiting diets, it can be hard to decide which one to add to your list of New Year's resolutions. You're reading this article, though, so you must be curious about making a change to your current animal-protein consumption. A label-free way to cut down on the amount of animal-products you eat is to try out Meatless Mondays, and there's no better time than the new year to try it out. Help detox your body after all the holiday grub and ring in 2018 by skipping meat once a week for your health, animals, and our environment.
Make Mondays Meat-Free For Your Health
In many recent studies, excess meat consumption has been found to be linked to high rates of cancer, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes. This is due to the fact that meat and animal products "are often high in saturated fat and cholesterol, as opposed to the more nutrient-dense and health-promoting plant-based [protein] options," as stated by Johns Hopkins University (where Meatless Monday began) in their research on "Health and Environmental Implications of U.S. Meat Consumption and Production." Dr. Robert S. Lawrence, the director of John Hopkins Center for a Livable Future, claims that "cutting meat out one day a week can help Americans reach the reduction goal" of reducing saturated fat consumption by 15%, as recommended in the government's Healthy People 2020 initiative.
Not to mention, The Humane Society of the United States claims, in their infographic for Meatless Monday, that "flexitarians" (those who occasionally swap meat for plant-products) weigh an average of 8 pounds less than the average American, plus have 31 percent lower odds of obtaining diabetes. This is profound, considering that the Obesity Society believes that the "rapid increase in the occurrence of diabetes is mostly attributed to the growing prevalence of obesity in the United States." Cutting out meat once a week doesn't sound too bad if it means avoiding a high chance of being overweight, becoming diabetic, or obtaining a life-threatening disease.
Meatless For The Animals
A big part of why people cut down on meat consumption is to avoid supporting factory-farming and the inhumane treatment or killing of animals. Based on USDA data, around 9.2 billion farm animals (i.e. cattle, chickens, ducks, hogs, sheep, lambs, and turkeys) were slaughtered in the United States for consumption in 2015.
By abiding to Meatless Monday for one year, according to the Vegetarian Calculator, you can save about 29 animal's lives. Although that may seem low, if you keep up with this movement throughout the years, the numbers start adding up. Plus, you aren't the only one participating in this reduction of meat consumption; the Humane Society of the United States predicts that about 57 percent of Americans have reduced their meat intake. Each individual helps the movement, and with the growing number of people cutting-back on meat, the overall demand for meat and the killing of farm animals heavily decreases.
With lower demand comes less animals in factory farms, which can, at the least, lead to better treatment of animals in terms of care and living space.
Less Meat, Better Environment
It's no secret that our environment is in need of some human help to reduce the pollution and damage that has been gradually occurring. Unfortunately, one of the main causes of air and water pollution is animal agriculture. As claimed by Reducitarian.org, a site that promotes the reduction of meat consumption for environmental reasons, "factory farms produce an estimated 500 million tons of manure each year--more than three times the sewage produced by the entire U.S. population" leading to excess methane production. The meat industry is responsible for 20 percent of greenhouse gases worldwide.
Greenhouse gases are the main cause for implications in our environment, predominantly climate change. By reducing our meat consumption and demand, we can make big changes in the damage done by these gases. Further, animal agriculture uses up a lot of our water supply. As claimed by meatlessmonday.com, "approximately 1,850 gallons of water are needed to produce a single pound of beef" versus the "39 gallons... needed to produce a pound of vegetables."
To get a better gage, though, we have to look at the amount of water used in terms of protein (since that is the main nutrient people are concerned about when cutting meat out of their Monday diet). In the study "The Green, Blue, and Grey Water Footprint of Farm Animals and Animal Products" by M.M. Mekonnen and A.Y. Hoekstra, it was determined that it takes 26 liters of water to produce each gram of protein in vegetables, 19 liters per gram of protein in pulses (the leading plant protein source), 34 liters for chicken meat, and a whopping 112 liters for bovine meat. Also stated in the summary of this research is data presented by the Food and Agriculture Organization, which states that "the average USA citizen consumes almost four times the amount of protein compared to the global average." Since nearly 63 percent of this protein consumption is from animal products, it's safe to say that we, as Americans, owe it to the rest of the world to reduce our meat intake to better our environment.
But How Do I Make Meatless Meals?!
A fair and reasonable question you may be asking is "What the heck do I eat to be satisfied?"; here's a few ideas when it comes to getting your Monday munch on. Breakfast is often the easiest to make meatless, since a large amount of people tend to eat meat free in the mornings with options like oatmeal, smoothies, and eggs. In case you're looking for a meaty addition to your eggs, try cooking soyrizo into your scramble. Bonus points if you opt for a tofu scramble instead of eggs!
Lunch and dinner on the other hand can seem a bit trickier to the average eater. Some great lunch ideas can be salads loaded with vegetables and beans or lentils, or sandwiches with Tofurky Deli Slices in lieu of processed meat. For dinner, you can try burritos with Beyond Meat Grilled Strips, Tofurky Italian Sausage in pasta, or chili sin carne on top of a vegetarian hot dog. https://instagram.com/p/BW5lA3AhpEi/
The options are endless and simple, thanks to a high increase in vegetarian-labeled foods in the past five years and a growing amount of vegetarian and vegan choices at common restaurants. With all the hustling and bustling during the holiday season, there's no need to continue making things complicated as the new year begins.
Luckily, swapping meat for alternative proteins once a week can be simple, fun, and delicious!