"The first rule of sustainability is to align with natural forces, or at least not try to defy them."
Photo taken by me, in Disney's Animal Kingdom, April 2010
I recently read a news article about a college promoting something called Meatless Mondays. Although I do not remember which college it was, the article said that it was being promoted in the student cafeteria to encourage a healthier lifestyle. The article definitely caught my eye, so I decided to do some research about it.
I found that Meatless Mondays is not just an idea at this college that I read about, but a non-profit initiative associated with the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health. Their goal, according to their website, is to reduce meat consumption by 15 percent in order to improve personal health and the health of our planet.
Most people probably already know that eating meat can have negative effects on personal health and many people stop eating meat for that reason. But many people probably don't realize that choosing not to eat meat is also environmentally friendly.
For example, I have taken some classes that have talked about the increasing dangers of factory farming and its negative effects on the environment and what I learned definitely influenced my meat eating habits. Factory farming is an increasing problem in this country because of the high demand for meat. Meat producers are thinking of ways to produce more meat, faster and cheaper. Factory farming is the result and it is having a horrible impact on animals, the environment and our natural resources. I still have a lot to learn but here are some facts that are given on Meatless Mondays website, as well as from farmsanctuary.org.
- The United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization estimates the meat industry generates nearly one-fifth of the man-made greenhouse gas emissions that are accelerating climate change worldwide , far more than transportation. As annual worldwide demand for meat continues to grow, reining in meat consumption once a week can help slow this trend.
- The water needs of livestock are tremendous, far above those of vegetables or grains. An estimated 1,800 to 2,500 gallons of water go into a single pound of beef.
- The quantity of waste produced by farm animals in the United States is more than 130 times greater than that produced by humans. Agricultural runoff has killed millions of fish and is the main reason why 60 percent of America's streams are "impaired."
For those of you that love your meat, just try one day a week and see how delicious a meatless diet can be. There are many recipes on Meatless Monday's website. If you can't completely give meat up, try to buy it locally. Many towns and cities have local meat shops. In Indiana, try Cunningham's. Buying locally usually ensures that the meat was humanely raised and not raised in an environmentally dangerous factory farm.
For more information on Meatless Mondays
For more information on factory farming
Click here to watch a video on the environmental dangers of factory farming.