I have been a vegan for about 7 years but was a vegetarian since high school and have not eaten meat in over 20 plus years. I get asked questions all the time from friends, family members, acquaintances and even people that I don’t really know about veganism and eating a plant-based diet. Overall people are curious. They are interested in learning new ways to make changes in their lives to help make more of a positive impact in their lives and others. So, when people ask the questions and ask "why", I say "why not"?
Meatless Mondays is a national campaign that is recognizable in over 44 countries in schools, hospitals, places of work and in local communities. People are recognizing the growing concerns with their health, our environment and animal welfare that they are taking charge in their choices in hopes they will have a more positive impact on everything.
Why Monday, I mean wouldn't any day be just as good to not eat meat? Well yes of course but the significance of Monday is that it is the beginning of the week and people tend to want to start their weeks out on a positive note in hopes it will carry on better habits throughout the week. It helps influence our choices for the days to follow in the week. Monday sets the precedent for what we want and hope for to come.
There are many reasons why people should be looking to reduce or eliminate the amount of meat consumption in their lives but the three main important ones are for our health, for our environment and for the animals.
There are a growing number of diseases and there are studies that a vegan/plant-based diet can help reduce and even reverse heart disease and stroke. Our delicious veggies, fruits and whole grains have been shown to help protect against cardiovascular disease. Eating more plants can also limit cancer risk. There is evidence that eating red meat and processed meat can increase the risk of colorectal cancer. It can also fight diabetes. You reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes by eating a diet low in processed meat or consisting on plants. Lastly eating a vegan/plant-based diet can help with obesity. As an educator, we are seeing more and more children suffering from obesity due to the foods they are consuming. We need to educate our families and children about making healthier choices early on to help reduce problems that could affect them the rest of their lives.
By reducing your meat consumption, you are also helping our environment. For one it will minimize water usage. Did you know that it takes more water to take care of the needs of the livestock that are being raised for meat consumption? It takes approximately 1,850 gallons of water are needed to produce a single pound of beef. Eating less meat also helps reduce greenhouse gases. Meat production produces significantly more greenhouse gases than vegetables. Carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide are the three main contributors. Also by reducing meat in your diet you will be helping to reduce fuel dependence. The meat industry uses so much energy to produce grain for livestock that if instead we use the grain to feed people following a vegetarian diet, it would be enough to feed about 840 million people. Think about that.
The last part to the concern is our animal friends. By reducing or eliminating meat consumption in your diet, you are helping to reduce the amount of suffering that the animals endure that are being raised as food. I could write a whole book about what it is like for these animals on the factory farms but I am not here to write about all of the horrible details of what they go through but what I do highly suggest is for you to educate yourselves about where your food comes from and the process of how your food actually becomes your food. By being aware, it helps you take charge of your choices and decide what you want to eat and what practices you support.
It is evident that people are becoming more and more aware of the concerns with consuming meat products and are now seeing the benefits of eating more plants in their diet. People are a creature of habit and change can be difficult for some. That is where Meatless Mondays can help. Just think, by making one small change in your life every week, how it will help benefit so many. The small changes that you start to input in your life will little by little add up. We all need to recognize that we are responsible for our own choices and that we all can make a difference and what better way to make a difference than at the beginning of the week which will set you up for success the rest of the days to follow.