I admit, I just couldn’t be a vegetarian, at least not for long. One sniff of bacon and I’d feel I was missing out. But a colleague told me about Meat Free Mondays – sounds do-able.
It seems that the latest evidence is that eating less meat is not just good for us but good for the planet too. I’m not about to ditch the fillet steaks just yet, but I’ve decided to try Meat Free Mondays and because it’s easier to stick to, hopefully it will be a long term plan. But if you can only cope with one veggie day a year – today’s National Meat Free Day.
Eating less red and processed meat can:
– help you lose weight. Plant based diets tend to be less energy dense and can make you feel fuller.
– lower your cholesterol. Meat and dairy make up nearly half our weekly saturated fat intake.
– reduce your risk of getting bowel cancer.
Less meat, more forest.
The thing that swung it for me was that our hunger for cheap meat is the main cause of rainforest destruction.
I’ve seen first hand the destruction caused by a mono-culture of palm and sugar in the Dominican Republic and was horrified, but whilst palm oil accounts for 26 million acres of forest destruction, 136 million acres are lost to make way for cattle.
- 1-2 acres of rain forest are cleared every day to make way for animal agriculture.
- 91% of the Amazon Rainforest destruction is down to beef farming.
- 20% of the Amazon Rainforest has gone in the last 40 years.
- Forest clearance is the No.1 cause of species extinction, often before they’re discovered.
- 18% of the world’s greenhouse gases are caused by livestock – more than by cars.
- Over 90% of Madagascar’s original forests have been felled due to slash and burn clearance for grazing.
- Costa Rica has lost almost all of its forest in the last 20 years to ranching.
Forests play a vital role in cleaning our air and stabalising our climate. They store huge amounts of carbon that would otherwise contribute to climate change. Our forests are being burnt off the map by slash and burn clearance. Unfortunately without the trees to secure the ground, all too often the soil erodes and quickly turns into a lifeless desert.
And most of us are eating meat twice a day without even thinking about it. But we can make a difference – simply by eating less meat and eating more plants.
But meat is tasty…
Ok, I’m only resisting for one day of the week. But I’m going to make an effort to be more aware of what I’m buying. Source sustainable fish (avoiding John West’s tuna), shop with the local butcher and buy organic when I can (I don’t like the idea of all the antibiotics). And I’m going to try to jazz up simple food. I’m starting my week with a quinoa, edamame bean, carrot, beetroot and feta salad with some wild garlic pesto pasta (easy recipe here), followed up with a grapefruit, orange and pomegranate fruit cocktail.