Nourish

This is what the Meatless Monday Hashtag Really Means

Healthy eats and you get to save the environment? Heck yes!

In 2003, Sid Lerner of Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health founded Meatless Monday, encouraging people all over the world to reduce their consumption of meats and saturated fats. It is now a global movement, active in 36 countries and  backed by leading medical doctors and experts. Going meatless just one day a week can have serious positive impacts on both your health and the planet.

Going meatless even one day a week can have serious positive impacts on both your health and the planet.

As a vegetarian who tries to eat vegan as much as possible, I avoid all meats and try to use vegan substitutes for most animal products. I’m passionate about Meatless Monday, the history and its intended purpose behind a social, environmental, and healthful movement. Between products like vegan cheese, liquid egg substitutes, cashew or almond milk, and soy yogurt, there are plenty of healthy and cruelty ­free dietary options to incorporate into your diet,  even if just  on Mondays.

Going meatless one day a week can tremendously reduce the world’s carbon footprint, and contribute to the retention of important resources, like fossil fuels and fresh water. Further, it can reduce your risk of potentially preventable conditions like cancer, cardiovascular diseases, type 2 diabetes, and obesity. There are an abundance of studies, research, and supporting evidence conveniently compiled on the Meatless Monday website, which I encourage you to check out. There are plenty of satisfying, healthy, and delicious meals and recipes to cook on Meatless Monday, and can be found through many online sources and YouTube channels as well.

A vegetarian diet, even sparingly, could reduce water consumption by up to 58% per person.

In terms of benefiting the planet and sustaining a healthy environment, going meatless can help conserve water and fossil fuels. According to UNESCO, the water needs of livestock are much greater than those of fruits, vegetables, and grain. While approximately 1,850 gallons of water are needed to produce a single pound of beef, only 39 gallons of water are needed to produce a pound of vegetables. Meatless Monday is especially important in the US, as Americans consume nearly 4 times the amount of animal products and proteins than the global average.  A vegetarian diet, even sparingly, could reduce water consumption by up to 58% per person.

Studies also show that meat production significantly increases greenhouse gas emissions, far more than that of vegetables, including carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide: the three main contributing sources of greenhouse gas. Greenhouse gas emissions are harmful because they contribute to a scarily steady and rising rate of global warming (U.S. Energy Information Administration).

For more information on the movement and benefits behind Meatless Monday, I encourage you to browse meatlessmonday.com. There are plenty of reasons to pursue vegetarianism or veganism, even if for only one day a week, that work towards improving both your health and the planet. I hope you’ll join me in benefiting your health and the environment by going meatless on Mondays!

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Annie Mazzarella is a college sophomore studying English Literature and...