3 Ways Going Meatless Monday Benefits the Environment

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meatless monday on earth day
A perfect way to talk about food for Earth Day! You definitely don’t have to be a vegan or a vegetarian to help momma earth with your food choices. Great GD Foodie-Phile segment featuring Meatless Monday‘s Diana Rice. Listen to the entire Earth Day Green Divas Radio Show at the end of this post!

If you don’t yet participate in the Meatless Monday movement, today–the Monday before Earth Day–is the perfect day to join.

Meatless Monday was started in 2003 by former advertising executive Sid Lerner. He decided to partner with Johns Hopkins University to revive the former war rationing effort in the name of public health. At the time, the goal was to combat heart disease and other diet-related illnesses by helping Americans reduce their intakes of saturated fat and cholesterol from meat by about 15 percent.

In the decade since, however, we’ve learned that lowering our meat consumption is also an excellent way to protect the planet. So this Earth Day, as you contemplate how you can step up your efforts to recycle, conserve energy, and purchase green-friendly products, consider how cutting out meat one day a week can help!

Three Meatless Monday Benefits for the Environment

1. Reduce greenhouse gas emissions and fight climate change

Do you opt for walking, biking, or public transportation as often as possible because of the climate-damaging emissions produced by motor vehicles? Well, the United Nations estimates that the meat industry generates nearly one-fifth of the man-made greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change, which is actually more than the entire transportation sector. Sources of these emissions include animal manure, cattle belching, and synthetic fertilizers used to grow animal feed crops.

2. Conserve valuable water supplies

Any type of agriculture is going to require some amount of water, but meat production represents an especially inefficient use of our water supplies. As an example, producing one gram of protein from beef requires four times more water as is needed to produce one gram of protein from vegetables. This usage puts a strain on our limited freshwater reserves, which could alternatively be used to grow additional plant proteins, or to provide drinking water in drought-prone areas.

3. Help reduce fossil fuel dependence

If you’re a proponent of curbing our reliance on fossil fuel by supporting alternative and renewable energy sources, consider this: On average, it takes about 40 calories of fossil fuel energy to produce one calorie of feed lot beef, as compared to just 2.2 calories that go into producing one calorie of plant based protein.

Learn more about how meat production affects the environment here and here.

What’s great about Meatless Monday is that it provides an accessible, memorable way to cut down on your meat consumption and be a part of the solution to all these problems. Even better, though your own daily food choices may seem like small potatoes, you can be confident in the knowledge that you’re participating in a much larger movement, which collectively adds up to a significant change. Who knew there were so many Meatless Monday benefits?

In addition to Meatless Monday’s strong U.S. campaign, with hundreds of schools, hospitals, restaurants and home cooks participating every week, thirty-five countries around the globe now host their own Meatless Monday campaigns.

Watch this video for learn more about Meatless Monday benefits:

Need a little inspiration for your Meatless Monday meal tonight?

Try this simple Gallo Pinto recipe from Deirdre of Planit Healthier, an official Meatless Monday blog (just like The Green Divas!) The Central American staple is packed with protein, complex carbs and fresh veggies and seasoned with enticing spices. What more could you ask for in a meal?

Gallo Pinto
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Ingredients
  1. 3 cups cooked rice
  2. 2 cups cooked black beans
  3. 2 tablespoons coconut oil or grape seed oil
  4. 1 onion, finely chopped
  5. 1 red pepper, finely chopped
  6. 2/3 cup corn kernels (fresh or frozen)
  7. 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  8. 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  9. 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  10. 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  11. 1 tablespoon vegetarian Worcestershire Sauce
  12. 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  13. 1 tablespoon Costa Rican Lizano sauce or salsa
  14. several grinds salt and pepper
Serve with (optional)
  1. fresh cilantro
  2. 1 egg per person, sunny-side up
  3. corn tortillas, 1-2 per person
Instructions
  1. Heat oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and sauté until softened and translucent.
  2. Add pepper, sauté 1-2 minutes.
  3. Add corn and garlic.
  4. Add spices and sauces and mix thoroughly.
  5. Stir in rice and beans until mixture is heated through and well combined.
  6. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  7. In a separate skillet, fry one egg per person.
  8. Serve warm topped with an egg, and garnished with plenty of cilantro and additional sauces to taste.
The Green Divas http://thegreendivas.com/

Click HERE to take action to help Meatless Monday benefits count even more.

Now… sit back, relax and enjoy this special Earth Day episode!

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Chef image via shutterstock.

About the author / 

Green Diva Diana

Diana K. Rice is the registered dietitian on staff with Meatless Monday. As an RD, she's passionate about developing simple, healthy recipes and helping people find practical ways to create lifelong healthy habits. She is an advocate for sustainable agriculture and involving children in food production and preparation. Follow her on Twitter to keep up with her adventures in cooking and urban gardening.

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