I belong to a Toastmasters group (one of the best things I’ve ever done). The other day I had to give a speech to “persuade with power.” I decided to talk about Meatless Monday because I think it’s a good cause. The speech was well received, and I thought it would make a good blog post. I hope you enjoy it, and give it a try!
As many of you know, I experiment with both vegetarianism and veganism. While I can’t say that I’ve been wholly consistent over the years, or even over the last week, I have spent a large amount of time trying to abstain from eating meat, animal products like dairy and eggs, or both.
Many of us – myself included – struggle with giving up meat, particularly because cheeseburgers, steak and salmon are all so delicious. Today, however, I’d like to talk about a way to get some of the benefits of the vegetarian diet without the feelings of deprivation. It is the phenomenon called “Meatless Monday,” where non-vegetarians decide to give up meat for one day every week.
Meatless Monday actually dates back to WWI, when the government asked people to limit their consumption of meat to help the war effort. The campaign returned during World War II and beyond with Presidents FDR and Harry Truman.
It was revived in 2003 as part of a public health awareness campaign, and today I’d like to share with you some of the reasons why you should consider Meatless Monday.
Those of you who have seen the documentary film “Forks Over Knives” or have read “The China Study” will already know that the data shows that people who eat less animal-based foods have significantly lower rates of chronic diseases like cancer and heart disease.
Research from Harvard University showed that limiting meat intake can reduce the risk of heart disease by 19%. Heart disease is actually the #1 killer of both men and women in this country. In the US, 1 in every 3 deaths is from heart disease and stroke.
Another big health concern for us is cancer. A research study by the Cancer Project concluded that “vegetarians are at the lowest risk for cancer and have a significantly reduced risk compared to meat-eaters.”
Many of us don’t realize the implications that the meat industry currently has on our environment. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that the meat industry generates nearly 1/5 of the manmade greenhouse gas emissions that accelerate climate change. It is also estimated that 1800-2500 gallons of water go into a single pound of beef, and about 40 calories of fossil fuel energy go into every calorie of feed lot beef in the U.S.
According to the Environmental Working Group, if you skip one burger a week for a year, it is equivalent to not driving 320 miles in your car. If everyone in the US skipped meat for 1 day a week for a year, it would be equivalent to not driving 91 billion miles or taking 7.6 million cars off the road.
I won’t get into factory farming or the conditions of the animals, as it can be disturbing. But I do want to point out for the animal lovers in the crowd that according to the Humane Society of the US, about 1.4 billion animals could be spared each year if every American would cut out meat once a week.
Whether you are driven by an interest in improving your health, the environment, the conditions of animals, or all three, you’re in good company. Meatless Monday has such prominent supporters as Sir Paul McCartney, Yoko Ono, Oprah, Simon Cowell, Kate Moss, Gwyneth Paltrow, James Cameron, Bill Clinton and Al Gore. Maybe they’re on to something.
There are so many delicious vegetarian foods out there that you won’t even miss meat on Mondays. You could eat falafel with hummus, veggie burgers, many Indian dishes, pasta with vegetables, eggplant parmigiana, vegetable soup, vegetable stir-fry. Many Asian cuisines use tofu in their cooking, which is simply delicious. So there are a lot of options out there. You won’t feel hungry or deprived on Meatless Mondays.
There are a lot of great resources out there for those of you who want to give Meatless Mondays a try. I hope you will this coming Monday and see what you think!