While I contemplate whether vegetarianism as an option for me, I’ve been cutting back on the amount of meat I consume. I’ve been able to do a meat-free Monday, as well as Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, and I’ve enjoyed the challenge of finding new recipes and foods to sample. It’s pretty straightforward. I think the biggest challenge is convenience – if you’re eating out, sometimes the vegetarian menu is limited, or, something that is more of an issue, if you’re eating out at a friend’s house it may be hard to request they cook something extra for you. Neither are problems that can’t be handled – and right now, it just means I eat meat when it’s more convenient to!
On this note, today I wanted to talk about how you don’t have to be fully vegetarian to yield many of its benefits. Meat Free Monday is not a new concept: it is a non-profit campaign that was launched in 2009 by Paul, Mary and Stella McCartney. The idea behind it is that if lots of people cut meat out of their diet for one day a week, the impact will be both positive and significant.
Well, let’s back up a step – why would people want to eat less meat, what are the benefits? As argued on the Meat-Free Monday website, the reasons are:
- The farming of livestock requires huge quantities of resources, especially water and food; for example, 12kg of grain is required to produce 1kg of beef. 12kg of grain could feed more people than 1kg of beef. This means eating meat is a less efficient way to feed large populations of people. And conversely, if more people eat more vegetarian food we will be better able to feed the world’s population. (Setting aside distribution and political issues for now – let’s just try to solve things one step at a time, people! But the point is it would alleviate a lot of pressure on our food supplies.)
- Farming of livestock also contributes hugely to global greenhouse gas emissions (largely from their farts, I kid you not!), not to mention deforestation, which can also compound water shortage problems in drought-prone areas.
- And not all of the benefits are altruistic; eating vegetarian food, if done as a balanced diet, is much healthier for you than a diet high in meat. It has been linked to reduced risk of heart disease, strokes and cancer.
- Plus eating vegetarian foods is often less expensive than eating a lot of meat and meat product, and so it can also save you money!
- Livestock farming methods can be cruel, and the more meat you eat, the more you are implicitly supporting them. If you haven’t yet read my post about carnism, check it out here, for an explanation on why the meat and dairy farming industry can be considered cruel.
I think the beauty of Meat Free Monday is that it is not about denying yourself one thing, but about trying out another thing in a way which doesn’t feel too pressured.
So are you up for the challenge? Here are some tasty vegetarian blogs that I am confident will get you excited to try something new: