Although Meatless Monday began during World War 1 to get Americans to do their part for the war effort, it has as much value today. Meatless Monday has become a global movement, thanks to efforts by The Monday Campaigns (www.meatlessmonday.com) in the US and the Meat Free Monday Campaign in the UK started by Paul, Stella and Mary McCartney (www.Meatfreemondays.com ). I started the good mother diet because of the animals but I am discovering that the benefits go above and beyond just feeling better about my choices, and of course trying fun, new recipes.
Save the Planet! – Well maybe not, but perhaps cutting down our meat consumption could help. “According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the livestock sector is “one of the top two or three most significant contributors to the most serious environmental problems, at every scale from local to global”. The FAO estimates that livestock production is responsible for 14.5 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions, while other organisations have estimated it could be as much as 51 per cent. World scientists on the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) agree that we need to reduce the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere by 80 per cent by 2050 in order to avoid catastrophic climate change.” (www.meatfreemondays.com)
Health Benefits! – Limiting the quantity and quality of meat in our diets can promote better health. Of course we can’t replace steak with doughnuts and expect good things. We have to make good choices. MeatlessMonday.com lists the following health related benefits of going meatless:
- LIMIT CANCER RISK: Hundreds of studies suggest that diets high in fruits and vegetables may reduce cancer risk. Both red and processed meat consumption are associated with colon cancer.
- REDUCE HEART DISEASE: Recent data from a Harvard University study found that replacing saturated fat-rich foods (for example, meat and full fat dairy) with foods that are rich in polyunsaturated fat (for example, vegetable oils, nuts and seeds) reduces the risk of heart disease by 19%
- FIGHT DIABETES: Research suggests that higher consumption of red and processed meat increase the risk of type 2 diabetes.
- CURB OBESITY: People on low-meat or vegetarian diets have significantly lower body weights and body mass indices. A recent study from Imperial College London also found that reducing overall meat consumption can prevent long-term weight gain.
- LIVE LONGER: Red and processed meat consumption is associated with increases in total mortality, cancer mortality and cardiovascular disease mortality.
- IMPROVE YOUR DIET. Consuming beans or peas results in higher intakes of fiber, protein, folate, zinc, iron and magnesium with lower intakes of saturated fat and total fat.
Compassionate Choice = Feel Better! – The majority of our livestock is raised in dirty, crowded and inhumane conditions. Going meatless one day a week is a start. Also buying meat raised with more compassionate standards, like the smaller mom and pop farms rather than the big, industrial giants, will boost that sector of the economy. Look for stores that use the Global Annual Partnership, like Whole Foods, that lists the Leading Animal Welfare Standards for each item on sale. “The Global Animal Partnership has developed Step ratings for pigs, chickens and cattle. Ratings for other species (turkeys, lamb, and others) are in development, so stay tuned. Look for this rating system the next time you stop by our meat department for beef, pork or chicken. It’s your way of knowing how the animals were raised for the meat you are buying.
Step 1: No crates, no cages, no crowding Like people, animals need a little “personal space” to be comfortable.
Step 2: Enriched environment It’s the simple things that keep animals active and engaged — like a bale of straw for chickens to hide behind and climb on, a bowling ball for pigs to manipulate and shove around, or a few sturdy objects for cattle to rub against when they need a good scratch.
Step 3: Enhanced outdoor access Pigs and chickens still live in buildings but they all — yes, each and every one of them — have access to outdoor areas where they can catch a few rays.
Step 4: Pasture centered Chickens need to forage, pigs need to wallow and cattle need to roam. They can do all of these things when they live outdoors and have shelter — and of course, a view!
Step 5: Animal centered; all physical alterations prohibited Animals get to live their lives with all the parts they were born with, and nothing else! No clipping, no snipping.
Step 5+: Animal centered; entire life on same farm Animals are born and live their entire lives on one farm. Pigs and cattle are slaughtered on the farm, and chickens are transported only short distances (because you can’t herd chickens!).” (http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/blog/whole-story/leading-animal-welfare-standards)
At the very least we can feel better about our choices. It’s like my sister, Susie, once said: “I can’t solve all the world’s problems, but I can do this one little thing. If we all do just one little thing it can make a difference.”