November 1, 2010 in Features

Do Your Part: Going meatless one day a week helps everyone

Terri Bennett McClatchy Newspapers
 

When the average person stops and thinks about all the meat they consume in just one day, it starts to really add up.

From bacon at breakfast, to that chicken Caesar salad at lunch, to ground beef tacos for dinner, many of us chow down on several meat products each day. Do your part for the planet and your family’s health and go meatless for at least one day a week.

The “Meatless Monday” movement is quickly gaining steam across the country. There are celebrity chefs joining the cause, major magazines doing cover stories on the benefits and websites devoted to helping people reduce the meat in their diet.

Want to know why it’s a good thing? For one, going meatless at least one day a week will help you significantly lower the amount of saturated fat you eat, help you lose weight, cut down your risk of cancer and some preventable diseases such as diabetes.

It also means you’ll be eating a more plant-based diet, which is better for your heart and overall health.

And don’t forget about the health of our planet. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations estimates that the global meat industry is responsible for nearly 20 percent of all manmade greenhouse gases – more than the entire transportation sector.

In the U.S. alone, it’s estimated that the meat sector is responsible for 40 percent of pesticide use, half of the antibiotic use, a third of the nitrogen and phosphorus loads in freshwater resources and almost two-thirds of manmade ammonia, which contributes significantly to acid rain.

Plus it’s estimated to take nearly 2,500 gallons of water just to produce 1 pound of ground beef, and countless thousands of gallons more are polluted by animal waste.

Now that you know the many reasons to reduce meat consumption, start by making a plan. It’ll be easier to keep your pledge of cutting out one day’s worth of meat each week if you plan out your meals in advance.

Not sure what to cook? There are many resources out there to help you create satisfying meat-free meals. Whether it’s a website or a new cookbook, inspiration is everywhere.

You can try substituting things like tofu for meat into some of your family’s favorite dishes. This is a great solution for casserole-type dishes.

You can also find veggie-based burgers, sausage, even chicken nuggets. At my house, spicy black bean burgers have turned into one of our favorite meat-free meals.

Check out DoYourPart.com/columns for a list of meat-free resources that will help you get started and keep you motivated.

Remember, what you and your family eat has a direct impact on your health and the health of our planet. If you want to make the best choice for both, meatless Mondays are a perfect way to do your part.

Terri Bennett is a veteran TV meteorologist, syndicated columnist and host of DoYourPart.com, where you can find everyday green living ideas that are better for you and the planet.


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