I wanted to start this month and year looking ahead to the bigger picture and how important vegetarianism can be for all of us. With that in mind, I asked the team at Meat Free Monday
to remind us just how vital it is for the future of our planet. Knowing that a vegetarian life is healthy for you and the planet, is such positive motivation.
We hear so much these days about how we can help reduce greenhouse gases and have a less harmful impact on the environment. We’re told to use energy efficient light bulbs, insulate our homes, take the bike instead of the car, have shorter showers, etc. Of course these things are important and do have a positive impact. But what always surprises me is that one easy, effective – and fun – way to help the planet is so often left off the list! It’s something that all of us can do, and it’s something that we can do immediately. We don’t need to make changes to our homes and it doesn’t cost more money – in fact it can save money. And it also improves our health!
What is this magical solution? Well, in a nutshell (almost literally!) the action is … eating more plant-based foods and less meat and dairy. And a great way to start is to take part in Meat Free Monday!
Mary, with her father Paul and sister Stella, launched the Meat Free Monday campaign in 2009 after hearing about a report by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization which highlighted the detrimental environmental impact of livestock production. And now Meat Free Monday has released a brand new resource to inspire people to get involved.
The new colourful 12-page booklet outlines what Meat Free Monday is, how it came about and why it’s a good thing – both for our health and for the heath of the planet. Did you know that an area of rainforest the size of a hundred football pitches is cut down every hour to create room for grazing cattle? Or that it can take 2350 litres of fresh water to produce just one 150g beef burger? That’s enough water to fill 30 bathtubs or have a five-hour shower! And were you aware that as little as 50g of processed meat a day (the equivalent of one sausage or two bacon rashers) increases the risk of coronary heart disease by 42% and diabetes by 19%?
‘With a Little Help from [Paul’s] Friends’ (celebrity contributions from Kevin Spacey, Lauren Laverne, Joanna Lumley and others), the new resource also contains cooking ideas, handy shopping tips and a supporter story, and is ideal for those who haven’t necessarily considered eating less meat before but who would be open to trying something new and exciting.
“We tend to think that what we have always done is what we always will do in the future,” says Paul. “How boring is that? Can’t you look at your life and go, ‘You know what? I think I might fancy a change.’”
Meat Free Monday has come a long way since its launch, with restaurants, businesses, schools, universities and individuals now taking part all over the world. A host of celebrities and food experts back the campaign, including renowned chef Bruno Loubet who says: “It is not something you would expect a French chef to say, but you do not need meat to make an excellent dish that is exciting and full of flavour. I passionately believe that vegetables can be the star of the show”.
With so many great veggie foods now available in restaurants and food outlets, having at least one day a week without meat is a really easy step in a green and healthy direction. So why not swap chicken for chickpeas, salami for seitan and turkey for tofu on Mondays and see how you get on? As well as having a kinder impact on the planet, you might be surprised how much you enjoy it!
To find out more, or get a copy of the new Meat Free Monday resource, visit meatfreemondays.com