Going vegetarian or vegan can be a daunting task, but there’s no reason to jump in head first! Meatless Mondays (or Wednesdays or Saturdays) can change the world, and its great for the environment, your health, and the animals!
You might be surprised by how much water it takes for the food to get to your plate. The food we eat makes up about 80% of America’s total water footprint. Virtual water is what makes up this water footprint. Virtual water is the amount of water that is embedded in products needed for its production, so this includes the water used in cleaning and transporting for example. Pound for pound, meat has a higher water footprint than vegetables, grains or beans. For instance, a single pound of beef takes, on average, 1,847 gallons of water. It adds up around the world to a range of 7-305 pounds per person per year.
Assuming everyone eats equal amounts of meat each day, adding Meatless Monday will bring that number down to 6-262 pounds per person per year (divide by 7 and then multiply by 6) and that’s a big difference! Beyond water footprint, let’s talk about carbon footprint! Beef produces 13 times the emissions of vegetable protein (beans, lentils, tofu, etc.) Once again that’s a big difference! This is very simplified and does not consider all the pollution that comes from animal agriculture!
Pant-based meals, which emphasizes fruits, vegetables, grains, beans, legumes and nuts, is rich in fiber, vitamins and other nutrients. A National Cancer Institute study of 500,000 people found that those who ate the most red meat daily were 30 percent more likely to die of any cause during a 10-year period than were those who ate the least amount of red meat. Other processed meats also increased the risk plenty, but the people who ate the least meat were least likely to die in the 10-year period.
Vegans and vegetarians do get enough protein no matter what the stereotypes say. Make sure you eat enough calories and you are sure to get enough protein. If you eat the same amount of vegetables as you would meat, that’s not going to work! Most meat-free food is less calorie dense than meat so keep that in mind. Don’t forget variety and you shouldn’t have a problem with protein, iron, vitamins, or anything else you might be worried about!
This is the reason most people suspect when you say you’re eating less meat or going vegetarian. After all, modern agriculture commonly keeps animals in overcrowded stalls, cages, crates, or sheds where they are often unable to turn around or take even a single step in their entire lives. Deprived of care, exercise, sunlight, and grass, the animals suffer tremendously before even coming to the slaughterhouse. It is important to remember that the animals are living, breathing, thinking, and feeling beings. The meat industry kills more than 25 billion animals each year.
In modern factory farms, animals are routinely injected with hormones and stimulants to make them grow bigger and faster. Some of these injections have been proven to cause cancer and other diseases. Feedlots are crowded, filthy, stinking places with open sewers and choking air. The animals would not survive in the filthy and crowded conditions without the unnatural amount of antibiotics used. At some farms, cattle are fed dead ground up cows.
Add some meatless meals to your diet! And you don’t have to do it on a Monday, but Meatless Wednesdays just doesn’t sound as good. Do what works best for you!