New year brings rise in meat free pledges

Health-conscious eaters usher in 2016 by giving up meat, following a year in which benefits of cutting back became even more apparent

'2016' written in fruit, veg, nuts and chocolate on wooden surface

Eating more healthily is at the top of many new year resolutions lists at the start of 2016 – and with meat free eating going from strength to strength, there has never been a better time to join the in-crowd.

Thousands of you have pledged to make January a meat free month, with many others taking it a step further and opting for the full “Veganuary” – giving up all animal products for 31 days. Having discovered how simple, tasty and nutritious life with less meat can be, it will hopefully be easy to incorporate a meat free or vegan day into your life on a permanent basis. You can start the week full of beans (or another vegetarian food of your choice!) with a Meat Free Monday, or choose another day or days that suit you better.

Those voting with their knives and forks to curb the world’s appetite for meat may have been influenced by the slew of news stories over the past year reported by Meat Free Monday. Many simply underlined what MFMers already know: that eating less meat is an overwhelmingly positive move for both people and planet. Many more further detailed the destruction being wrought on the environment by industrial livestock farming and the dangerous effects on human health of eating too much meat.

Hearteningly, a University College London study showed how the steps taken to eat more healthily, such as cutting out meat, were the same as those to curb climate change – a win-win situation that more governments would do well to heed. Those keen to shed a few pounds in 2016 will also have been inspired by research from Taiwan showing that meat-free dieters can shed as much as 2kg more than omnivores.

Other studies will hopefully have helped inform those still wilfully piling their plates – or those of their children – high at the barbecue and grill. Several reports established that eating less meat could significantly lower the risk of developing colorectal cancer or succumbing to heart disease, as well as helping cut spiralling rates of child and teen obesity.

And on a positive musical note, in May MFM founder Paul McCartney contributed to a song by Jamie Oliver and Ed Sheeran to celebrate Food Revolution Day, a scheme designed to educate children about the power of their food choices. More informed youngsters will be key to achieving critical meat free mass in years to come, inspired by pioneers like Paul and Jamie, and with the help of campaigns like Meat Free Monday.

So here’s to a happy and healthy 2016! We look forward to hearing more about your meat free plans for January … and beyond!