By Jessica Vasquez
Most often, the words “grassroots campaign” and “the environment” bring to mind saving the rainforest and preventing chemical spills. Some people are discouraged by the thought of how much the word “environment” really encompasses. Others think “I don’t have time to save the world.” Few of these people are the ones who donate a dollar here or there to people standing outside the grocery store every once in awhile. Want to do your part, but fall into these categories? Fear no more! Even you, the average Joe or Jane, can do your part to save the environment today!
Something as simple as a small alteration in carnivorous eating habits can make a positive difference in your carbon footprint. Now, hold on, I know you may be thinking “I’ve been eating meat since I’ve split from the womb, I can’t just go cold-turkey!” Take a deep breath and read on before running away.
According to meatlessmonday.com, during World War I the U.S. Food Administration campaigned on the slogan “Food Will Win the War!” The government proclaimed Meatless Mondays and Wheatless Wednesdays to reduce consumption of food that could be sent to soldiers in battle. The results were overwhelming. The website quotes a 1929 issue of Saturday Evening Post: “In November 1917, New York City hotels saved some 116 tons of meat over the course of just one week.”
In 2003, in order to help Americans reduce preventable diseases, more and more institutions began encouraging people to follow a meat-free diet for one day of the week. This simple act (that may prove a bit of a struggle for some at first) can drastically reduce the food and energy used to raise and slaughter cattle and other animals that provide families with hearty meals seven days a week. As well as reducing fossil fuels, such a change can also save your body.
Take a moment to think about where your meat comes from. Take cows, for example, since the “all- American meal” is a hamburger and fries. Cattle must be raised on farms where they can grow big and strong; this means tons of water and feed. Think of it this way, says the Meatless Mondays website, “the meat industry generates nearly one-fifth of man-made greenhouse gas emissions that are accelerating climate change.” Compared to the estimated “1,800 to 2,500 gallons of water that go into a single pound of beef,” soy tofu only uses 220 gallons of water per pound.
Americans have been told time and time again that too much red meat increases one’s risk of preventable diseases such as colon cancer, heart disease, and diabetes. Maybe learning that one day of vegetarian eating can help the earth as well as your body is what will change your mind. By taking part in Meatless Monday, you can say “I helped the earth today.”
For recipes and information on spreading the word about this healthy and environmental trend, visit meatlessmonday.com.