By Dawn Shepard
Meatless Monday is a national nonprofit public health initiative founded by the Mondays Campaign and the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. By eating vegetarian one day each week, meat consumption can be reduced by15%, improving both our personal health and the health of the planet. Going meatless once a week may reduce your risk of chronic preventable conditions like cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and obesity. It can also help reduce your carbon footprint and save precious resources like fresh water and fossil fuel.
Why Go Meatless on Monday?
- 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 significantlylower body weights and body mass indices. A recent study from Imperial College London also found that reducing overall meat consumption canprevent long-term weight gain.
- LIVE LONGER: Red and processed meat consumption is associated withincreases 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.
- REDUCE YOUR CARBON FOOTPRINT. The United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization estimates the meat industry generates nearly one-fifth of the man-made greenhouse gas emissions that are accelerating climate change worldwide . . . far more than transportation. And annual worldwide demand for meat continues to grow. Reining in meat consumption once a week can help slow this trend.
- MINIMIZE WATER USAGE. The water needs of livestock are tremendous, far above those of vegetables or grains. An estimated 1,800 to 2,500 gallons of water go into a single pound of beef. Soy tofu produced in California requires 220 gallons of water per pound.
- HELP REDUCE FOSSIL FUEL DEPENDENCE. On average, about 40 calories of fossil fuel energy go into every calorie of feed lot beef in the U.S. Compare this to the 2.2 calories of fossil fuel energy needed to produce one calorie of plant-based protein. Moderating meat consumption is a great way to cut fossil fuel demand.
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