In 2007, 9.5 billion animals were killed to feed the growing population. In 2014, that number dropped to 9.1 billion and continues to decrease yearly, despite an expanding population. With population numbers continuing to expand, will this trend continue? Or will the demand for meat products start to increase, putting our environment and our health at risk?
These stats had me questioning – If everyone in the U.S. went meatless for one day, what would happen?
- Yearly there would mean less carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide, three greenhouse gases contributing to global warming, being released into the atmosphere.
- Livestock actually accounts for 51% of all greenhouse gas production!
- The amount of trees being cleared in the Amazon to raise beef cattle would be reduced.
- 100,000 L of water would be saved per 2.2 lbs of beef not being consumed.
- We could save 70 million gallons of gas a year.
- Less demand for cattle would mean less pollutants would be entering our waterways.
- Fewer antibiotics and growth hormones would enter our food supply.
- Going meatless for one day could save 33 tons of antibiotics a year!
- Not to mention the countless animals that would be saved from living their days out in filthy stalls or cages, poked and prodded with dirty equipment, pumped with hormones and other nasty chemicals, and slaughtered in ruthless ways.
Overall, a vegetarian diet is more sustainable for the environment! Regardless, everyone cutting simply one day of meat consumption every week can have a drastic influence on these issues. Not convinced to give Meatless Monday a try yet? Well let’s take a more personal approach to things, shall we?
What does Meatless Monday mean for your health?
- Vandana Sheth, RDN and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics says that switching to a more plant-based diet even one day a week is associated with a decreased risk of heart disease, stroke, cancer, obesity, and even diabetes.
- Red meat consumption in addition to processed meat consumption have evidence supporting that they may increase the risk of colorectal cancer along with possible other cancers such as lung, stomach, and pancreatic cancer.
- Studies show that people that eat more fruits and vegetables have lower Body Mass Index (BMI), potentially because of the fiber-rich plant material that fills you up faster and can result in lower calorie intake.
- An astounding 7 out of 10 deaths each year are caused by chronic illnesses such as diabetes, stroke, or cancer! Since evidence supports meat consumption ups your risk of these diseases, going meatless for one day a week could potentially drop your chance and set you up for healthier habits!
- You could save money, since meat is often more pricey than vegetables, beans, and grains.
- Think of Meatless Monday not as a subtraction from your diet, but as an addition! You have the opportunity to get creative with your cooking! Oats, buckwheat, quinoa, millet, lentils, beans, vegetables – they all provide vitamins and minerals that you may not be getting in your diet otherwise!
- Plant-based proteins still provide adequate protein to meat your daily needs (see below)
- The Recommended Daily Allowance for protein is 56 grams a day for adult men and 46 grams a day for adult women. Most meat consumers get way more protein in their diet than recommended each day.
- Fruits and vegetables add more color to your plate! More color = more carotenoids, antioxidants that can fight free radical damage!
Protein content in meatless options
1 cup beans/lentils – 12 – 17 grams protein, depending on the beans (read labels!)
1 oz nuts and seeds – Between 5 – 7 grams protein, depending on the nut/seed
1 cup spinach – 1 gram protein
1 cup chopped broccoli – 2.6 grams protein
½ cup cooked quinoa – 4 grams protein
1 medium apple – 0.5 grams protein
1 banana – 1.3 grams protein
2 Tbl peanut butter – 8 grams protein
1 egg – 6 grams protein
1 cup Greek yogurt – 17 grams protein
1/2 cup oats – 7 grams protein
Going meatless for one day doesn’t have to be a burden on your family or your wallet! In fact, you may save money and potentially decrease your chance of getting certain illnesses later in life. Not to mention the wonderful impact less meat consumption can have on the environment!
Worth giving it a shot? Try it for 1 month, 1 year, or heck even 2 weeks! It may be easier to incorporate into your life than you think. Does your family celebrate Meatless Monday? What sort of benefits have you noticed from it?
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400 Million Fewer Animals Were Killed for Food Last Year vs. 2007 Because People Are Eating Less Meat. (n.d.). Retrieved July 09, 2017, from http://latestvegannews.com/400-million-fewer-animals-were-killed-for-food-last-year-because-people-are-eating-less-meat/#
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