“Ok, here’s the story on Meat Free Monday. In 2006, the United Nations issued a report which stated that the livestock industry as a whole was responsible for more greenhouse gas emissions than the whole of the transport sector put together.
“I found this interesting particularly because people at the UN are not a vegetarian society and therefore, could not be accused of bias. They pointed out the following facts:
- The Livestock industry produces gases that are extremely dangerous for the future of our environment.
- The two main gases, methane and nitrous oxide, are considered to be more harmful than CO2 (methane is 21 times more powerful than CO2 and nitrous oxide is 310 times more powerful than CO2) so the data suggests that this is causing a highly dangerous situation for ourselves and, more importantly, for future generations.
- Methane also remains in the atmosphere for 9 to 15 years; nitrous oxide remains in the atmosphere for 114 years, on average, and is 296 times more potent than CO2 – the gases released today will continue to be active in degrading the climate decades from now.
- Livestock production is land intensive: a recent report by Greenpeace on land use in the largest meat producing state in Brazil found that livestock (cattle) production was responsible for vastly more deforestation than soya.
- A third of all cereal crops, and well over 90% of soya, goes into animal feed, not food for humans. Eating less meat will free up a lot of agricultural land which can revert to growing trees and other vegetation, which, in turn, will absorb more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
- Livestock production is water intensive: it accounts for around 8% of global human water use. The estimated 634 gallons of fresh water required to produce one 5.2 ounce (150g) beef burger would be enough for a four-hour shower. For comparison, the same quantity of tofu requires 143 gallons of water to produce.
- Livestock production is the largest source of water pollutants, principally animal wastes, antibiotics, hormones, chemicals from tanneries, fertilizers and pesticides used for feed crops, and sediments from eroded pastures.
- The meat industry is set to double its production by 2050 so even if they manage to lower emissions by 50%, as they have promised to, we will still be in the same position.
“With this in mind, my family and I launched Meat Free Monday in the UK, an idea which has been gaining support from people like Tom Parker-Bowles who, after a lifetime of denigrating vegetarians, recently wrote in his Daily Mail column, ‘I wince at the memory of my boorish antics’ and who pronounced himself ‘intrigued’ by MFM: ‘There’s no doubting the plain common sense of the message… Meat Free Monday is something to really savour’. Another supporter is Al Gore who stated that initiatives like Meat Free Monday ‘represent a responsible and welcome component of a comprehensive strategy for reducing global warming pollution and simultaneously improving human health.’
“Even a number of schools have already done this in the UK with great success. The town of Ghent in Belgium has a meat free day and, amazingly, Sao Paulo has one even though Brazil is a large exporter of meat. In Sweden, the government is now labeling food to give the consumer the opportunity to understand the dangers of indiscriminate food consumption and there are many more examples appearing online.
“The point is that so many people these days are looking for ways to ‘do their bit’ for the environment. We recycle – something we never would have dreamt of doing in the past. Many people now drive hybrid cars but most people understand that we cannot leave this important issue to the politicians of the world. Recently, at the Copenhagen Conference for Climate Change, this issue was not even on the agenda and so I believe it is once again left to us, the people, to do it ourselves.
“It’s amazingly easy to take one day in your week, Monday or any other day, and not eat meat. When you think about it, there are so many great alternatives, for instance, in Italian cooking, so many of the dishes are vegetarian already and Thai and Chinese cuisine are the same. All it means is that you have to think a bit about what you’ll eat that day but, in actual fact, far from being a chore, it’s a fun challenge.
“Having been vegetarians for over 30 years, my family and I find it very simple and in fact, tasty and most enjoyable.
“So there it is! Next Monday – don’t eat meat and do your bit to save this beautiful planet of ours. For more information, ideas and lots of meat-free recipes, go to the official Meat Free Monday website www.meatfreemondays.com
Rock on y’all!