By Barbara Kessler
Green Right Now
Veggie advocates want American omnivores to adopt a day without meat. Well, some of them want us to just give up meat totally, but I’m talking about the Meatless Monday campaign here, which argues that if we’d cut out the steaks and pork chops on just this one day, we’d reduce the saturated fat that we consume and make a big dent in the greenhouse gas emissions produced by the livestock industry.
They say livestock operations account for nearly 20 percent of greenhouse emissions, overall. I’m not sure how they get to that figure, but it’s obvious that meat is higher on the food chain and therefore requires more energy to produce. Grain-fed cattle, for instance, consume copious amounts of water if you figure their intake from the very start: the irrigated corn field where the “feedstock” is grown. Cows and pigs and chickens require lots of transportation, too, as they’re carted around from farm to CAFO to slaughterhouse and then in pieces in refrigerated trucks to food outlets.
Am I grossing anyone out?
Back to Meatless Monday. Americans could stand to make this change. We eat more meat now than we ever have. Meat turns up in nearly every meal, except for maybe breakfast if you’re a toast and cereal sort. High consumption of meat (saturated fat) is associated with the development of heart disease, stroke and diabetes and even certain cancers. It’s a big actor in our little obesity problem, that compounds so many other problems. So fewer burgers and fried chicken sandwiches could ameliorate a lot.
So goes the story, a pound (ha!) of prevention and all that. (Did you happen to hear the predictions this week about how Medicare will go broke in two years?)
Meatless Monday is taking a page from the successful Eat the View campaign that won over the White House to the idea of veggie gardening. The group is asking the Obama White House to consider…Meatless Mondays. It doesn’t seem like such a big ask. It might annoy meat producers.
And these meatless agitators, by the way, have some credible backers, like the Bloomberg School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins, and 28 other schools of public health, according to the group’s disclosure info. It has a host of corporate sponsors too. And yeah, a YouTube video.
So it’s not a reach to think of the U.S. making this a national declaration, in the interest of public health, if not global warming. The Belgian city of Ghent will have beaten us, and everyone else, to it. Officials there declared this month that they’ll be having a city-wide veggie day every week, in hopes of curbing their carbon imprint and keeping waistlines in check. City councilors are kicking off the movement, with schoolkids expected to follow in the fall, according to the BBC story.
I have to admit this is a movement I’m bullish on. Though at our house, we’ve turned the concept around. We have Meat Mondays to satisfy those of us who still want to eat meat, sometimes. We have to move the day to Wednesday or Thursday, at times, which is jarringly un-alliterative. And we know that being mostly veggie, we’re pescavegatarians mainly, will never endear us to our purist veggie brethren. But for our health and for the planet, the mostly-veg diet keeps us ticking.
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