What is the first thing it crosses your mind when you hear the word “Monday”? Tiredness, misery, sadness? For some people, it even gives them goosebumps. But for other people, Monday is a fresh start, motivation, a chance to get their act together. Especially when you eat more than you should've had during the weekend and now you regretted all the extra calories that you took.
Because of that, several young adults are choosing to go meat-free at least once a week. This movement is called Meatless Monday. But, not only because it brings great benefits for their body and health, but also because for the sake of the environment that we live in.
“Meatless Monday has being my savior since the beginning of this year.” Said Eduarda Manzino, sophomore psychology major. “I started following a Brazilian fitness blogger on Instagram because on January she started a diet where she would cut meat at least once a week. She got really in shape and fit, so I started doing that too.”
Even though Meatless Monday is trending right now, this is not a new idea. The movement started during the World War I, when the U.S Food Administration encouraged all the families to reduce the consumption of meat to support the war effort. It all begun with the “Food Will Win the War” campaign, where Meatless Monday and Wheatless Wednesday were introduced to the population to motivate everybody to do their part. The movement was bring back to consciousness in 2003 by Sid Lerner, an ad man turned health advocate, in association with the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.
“The goal is to get everyone to cut out meat one day a week to reduce meat consumption by 15 percent for our personal health and the health of the planet.” Said Nara Sandberg, Marketing Coordinator of the Meatless Monday Association. “Reducing meat intake even one day a week can have an impact on both your health and the environment.”
A lot of people tend to associate meat with the only existing source of protein. However, Diane Rice, a Registered Dietitian and owner of the blog The Baby Steps Dietitian, explains that protein deficiency is not common, even in full-time vegetarians.
“Although most plant protein sources provide limited amounts of some of the essential amino acids, it isn't necessary to combine foods to create “complete proteins.” If you eat a variety of foods, your body will have all the amino acids it needs to make the new proteins your body needs.” Said Rice.
However, Rice alerts that going meatless doesn't mean that you are eating healthier. It is still important to avoid the intake of unhealthy foods, such as processed products and products with a high level of sugar, and substitute it with healthy foods, such as vegetables, fruits, whole-grains and plant-based proteins.
“People think that you only get a source of protein from chicken where as beans and spinach and so other many foods have way more protein and health benefits than meat.” Said Danielle Shishkoff, senior advertising and public relations major.
According to Sandberg, the movement is trending over 40 countries and in over 20 languages all over the world.
“This blogger that I followed is from Brazil. And I follow another girl from Australia who is vegetarian right now, but she started her process by doing Meatless Monday.” Said Manzino. “I think the movement got popular because it really does a difference in our body. This is something that later, can become a lifestyle, like the Australian blogger that I follow. Which is also great for the planet.”
Going meatless once a week is not only beneficial to our health, it also reduces environmental damage. According to The Green, Blue and Grey Water Footprint of Farm Animals and Animal Products, 1/4 lb of beef burger takes 425 gallons of water, which would fill ten bathtubs. Also, it would have enough water for 1,700 thirsty people and 6,800 glasses of fresh drinking water. 348 miles drive is the amount of emissions we'd save if we would be willing to eat one less serving of beef each Monday of the year.
“I think Meatless Monday is a good way to ease into this lifestyle and people should give it a try because going vegan really isn't as hard as people think,” said Shishkoff. “You don't have to cut out anything, they make vegan hot-dogs, meat, cheese and all the good stuff.”
The Meatless Monday movement is also growing inside public and private schools. According to Sandberg, sometimes, schools start Meatless Monday on their own without contacting them, and sometimes they get involved from the start. Recently, they have added a new menu on Mondays in 95 school districts in Northeastern US and in 15 schools in Brooklyn.
“In some cases, passionate students bring Meatless Monday to their school and promote it to their peers. An example of this is Sophie Sonnenfeld, a high school student in New Haven, CT who first brought Meatless Monday to her K-9 school, The Foote School, and later to her high school, Hopkins School, both private schools in Connecticut.” Said Sandberg.
However, Meatless Monday inside the school doesn't mean that they take meat off the menu. It just mean that they highlight tasty and different plant-based dishes, where all the staff and students can have the opportunity to try some more meatless options.
“We developed our Meatless Monday Implementation Guides based on research conducted by the Johns Hopkins University Center for a Livable Future, who gathered feedback from foodservice professionals, including the insight that Meatless Monday is more successful when meat is kept on the menu.”
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