The Benefits Of Meatless Monday Aren’t A Myth At All
This article was written by The Zillennial Zine’s fall editorial intern Jess Newman. Find her on Instagram at @_jess_n_. If you would like to share an article with The Zillennial, send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
As a Zillennial, I remember when Disney Channel launched its “Friends for Change” initiative like it was yesterday. The iconic song “Send It On” with Disney royalty: the Jonas Brothers, Demi Lovato, Selena Gomez and Miley Cyrus was playing almost every single commercial break. That was 14 years ago in the summer of 2009 and sadly, our idols did not single-handedly stop global warming. The planet is literally burning up (pun intended). Small actions lead to big impactful changes and Meatless Monday just might change all of our lives for the better.
The Origin of Meatless Monday
Herbert Hoover and the US Food and Drug Administration began Meatless Tuesdays and Wheatless Wednesdays during World War I as a form of rationing. The farmers had been drafted to the war which left the fields unattended. These two days would help cut back on the use of meat, fat, sugar and wheat. During this time, the initiative was even applied to restaurants and hotels. It made a major impact saving 96.75 tons of meat in one single week during November 1917. After the war, Wheatless Wednesdays became a thing of the past. Meatless Tuesdays became Meatless Mondays and was made into a non-profit public health initiative in 2003. The day this initiative was changed from Tuesday to Monday because people are more inclined to start new behaviors at the beginning of the week (insert the joke about “I’ll start again on Monday). According to MondayCampaigns.org, today “Meatless Monday is supported by millions of people in over 40 countries and is backed in science and research by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health Center for a Livable Future.”
Benefits of Eating Less Meat
The benefit of eating less meat that impacts you directly and immediately is your personal health. It has been proven time and time again that humans do not NEED to eat meat. Nutrition Advance explains this well by saying, “No foods are essential, but many nutrients are.” All the animals that are consumed in the standard American diet are fed a plant-based diet. This is where they get their nutrients and then they get eaten themselves. We could cut out the middlemen (the animals in this case) and just eat the plant-based diet ourselves. Our protein needs can be fulfilled by plant sources like beans, soy, nuts and other vegetables. According to the Mayo Clinic, the average adult only needs 50 grams of protein daily. This target is very easy to hit seeing that most protein shakes have 20 to 30 grams of protein. I’m vegan (and have been for almost 9 years) and I have a protein shake every day for breakfast. I use MyProtein’s Soy Protein Isolate, frozen berries, unsweetened cashew milk and some powdered peanut butter. All of those ingredients add up to approximately 35 grams of protein. That achieves more than half of the daily target given by the Mayo Clinic. By decreasing the amount of animal products you consume, you will also dramatically decrease your chances of getting type 2 diabetes and your cholesterol will plummet. This diminishes your chances of heart disease and strokes.
The two indirect impacts of eating less meat are reducing your carbon footprint and saving the lives of the animals that are not being killed to be eaten. Your carbon footprint is the measurement of how many fossil fuels you use for all the activities in your life. “According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), animal agriculture generates over 14.5% of global greenhouse gas emissions. That is more than the exhaust emissions from the world’s cars, trucks, planes, and ships combined.” This is why what you eat matters. Not only does animal agriculture create a lot of carbon dioxide, but the practice also wastes a lot of resources. To put this into perspective, here are some of the numbers I found during my research. Our World in Data states, “If we combine pastures used for grazing with land used to grow crops for animal feed, livestock accounts for 77% of global farming land.” According to the Water Footprint Calculator, it takes 660 gallons of water to produce a 6-ounce steak compared to 21 gallons to produce a salad. The World Resources Institute concludes that “animal-based Foods are more resource intensive than plant-based foods.” If we all embraced a more plant-based lifestyle, imagine how many resources we would be saving. We would have more land to grow crops to feed everyone.
These numbers show without a doubt that having meals that are meatless once a week has a bigger impact than I would ever imagine. Small things lead to bigger things. As those Disney Channel stars once sang, “With one little action, the chain reaction will never stop.” Our planet and everyone who will be here after us deserve our efforts to lessen the harsh consequences of global warming. Reducing your carbon footprint by not eating meat will make a significant difference.
Can you commit to going meatless once a week? Do you think Meatless Monday has an impact? If you need any inspiration, we have an article on must-follow vegan TikTokers!