A lot of exciting things are supposed to happen this year. If Arthur C. Clarke is right, this is the year that Jupiter will turn into a sun thanks to Roy Schneider. We’re 2 years away from the Mayan (Aztec?) apocalypse. Yep, this is an exciting time to be alive!
In all seriousness, while 2010 is a year of great opportunity, it’s also one of great challenge with the glocal economy still on shaky footing, joblessness soaring acros the world, and some very credible evidence that the environment is getting more and more unstable. Fixing the environment is a big job, but it’s not so big if we all pitch in. That’s why Caitlin from Roaming Tales and I are doing this series on sustainable eating: so everyone can make informed decisions about food and the food supply.
Okay, I’m back!
I wanted to talk about why I support #MeatlessMonday and how it fits into sustainable eating.
I found out about #MeatlessMonday from Twitter months ago. Instantly, even without knowing there was a site and an eNewsletter behind it, I knew it was something I could get behind for a number of reasons.
First and foremost, I think the best reason to support #MeatlessMonday is that it’s very middle-of-the-road. In the meat vs. veg*n debate, there is, quite frankly, a lack of moderation. Both sides feel very strongly that they are right and the other side is very, very wrong. Frankly, I’m not here to weigh in on either side, nor recap the debate except to say that both sides have valid points and points where they are basically off the reservation. (Or in other words, both sides are very human.)
So, enter #MeatlessMonday. It’s one day out of the week where we pledge to avoid eating meat. That’s like 3 meals or, if you work out with my trainer, 3 meals and 3 snacks where you give up meat and try something new and different. It’s not very difficult to do and it’s easy to plan for, but it’s a small change that can have a big impact on your health and the environment. It’s a small enough change that even the most dyed in the wool meat eater can make and it’s a start in the right direction if you want everyone to be veg. In other words, it’s a good compromise for those who don’t want to get wrapped up in the extremes of both sides.
But why do it at all, or as one friend asked, why make Monday worse by not eating meat?
So, I have no doubt that Monday was chosen because it’s an alliteration (and because Tofu Tuesday was already taken…), but of all the work days in the week, Monday is the easiest to plan around. More and more people are starting to cook on Sundays to feed themselves for the a portion of the week. Therefore, picking Monday as your day to get meatless means that you have Sunday to research vegetarian recipe books and sites to figure out what you are going to make and so you can make it beforehand.
But more than that, cutting your meat consumption by 1/7 has innumerable benefits for you and for the environment. Since this is a series on sustainable eating, I’ll eschew the health benefits for now, except to point out my SheKnows article “Vegetarians make better lovers.”
On the environmental side, it’s a fairly well documented fact by now that meat production, especially large-scale factory farms, are environmental catastrophes. They stink, making the land around them hard to live on, run off from all the animal droppings pollute local ground water supplies, and the animals are treated horribly and pumped full of antibiotics and hormones. They live badly and die badly and taste badly when served on a plate. It’s not sustainable and it’s not good for eating.
Dedicating one day to not eating meat would lower the demand for it. That would in turn reduce the need for large factory farms which would both improve the environment and would level the playing field for smaller meat producers who believe in sustainable meat production.
Oh, and did I mention vegetables taste good, especially when they are grown using sustainable methods? I have no data to prove this, but my experience has been that sustainable growing of fruit and vegetables has outpaced sustainable raising of meat products. So, in effect, the trade is to eat fewer factory farmed meats and more sustainably raised vegetables. It’s a net positive for the environment and for farmers doing things the right way.
And that’s why I support #MeatlessMonday. I am a believer in taking baby steps and in all of us making small steps that add up to one big change for the environment and #MeatlessMonday is one great way to do that. Also, because I don’t want anyone to feel like they are alone with their small change, I will continue to provide meatless recipes every Monday and support the cause.
It’s not going to feel like a big sacrifice if you actually enjoy what you eat, right?