Meatless Monday is a global movement that encourages people to reduce meat in their diet for their health and the health of the planet. The campaign was started in 2003 by Sid Lerner, the Founder of The Monday Campaigns, in association with the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future.
Eating less meat and more healthy plant-based foods can help reduce the incidence of chronic preventable diseases, preserve precious land and water resources, and combat climate change.
Meatless Monday’s simple message to “skip meat once a week” works because it provides a regular cue to act on Monday, which research shows is the day people are most open to making positive changes. Starting each week practicing Meatless Monday can lead people to eat more fruits, vegetables, and plant-based meals throughout the rest of the week.
Why is movement so important?
Our animal protein consumption has one of the biggest impacts on our carbon footprint. We don’t have to give up meat entirely (although that would be best) but even moderate reductions can have an impact on the planet and our health. Changing our habits to include more plant based proteins aren’t just a ‘nice to do’ but might be considered essential if we hope to feed the 10 billion people that may be living on our planet by 2050.
The animal protein industry (includes meat, dairy and eggs) uses an inordinate amount of the world’s fresh water supply. Agriculture accounts for 92% of our water use and livestock accounts for a full third of that amount. Consider this: a one pound of beef takes 8 gallons of water to produce!
Agriculture accounts for 10-15% of Green House Gas emissions. GHG emissions and the release of carbon into the atmosphere are the major contributing factors to global warming. Production of red meat accounts for between 10 and 40 times the greenhouse gas emissions as vegetable and grain production and meat production puts 13 times more CO2 in the atmosphere than vegetable based protein like tofu, lentils and beans. Vegetables are looking pretty good!
Billions of pounds of synthetic fertilizer, pesticides and herbicides are dumped on farms around the world. These chemical inputs degrade the soil we need to grow plants and wash off into the water supply to pollute streams, lakes and eventually the ocean. The unrestricted flow of chemicals into our water and soil is known to be linked to all kinds of health issues in humans and animals. Reducing our meat consumption and choosing organic vegetables provide a double benefit to us and the planet.
The decimation of the Amazon rainforest is largely attributed to the livestock industry, dominated by cattle. This makes the cattle industry one of the top causes of rainforest destruction. This cheap meat production is used to support the North American fast food industry and the pet food industry.
Putting this much land into animal production takes a toll on the planet. Up to 70% of grazing space in dry areas has been degraded due to overuse and compaction. It is estimated that all US livestock produce up to 20 times more waste than the entire human population, and a large pork operation can produce more than 1.6 million tons of manure a year, or the equivalent of one and a half times the total waste of a city the size of Philadelphia. Eating more plants reduces this waste problem.
Riverside launched a Meatless Monday campaign in March 2021 to encourage employees to consider eating more veggies. The Meatless Monday website provided most of the advice, information and images that we needed to create weekly videos, emails and information to share with our team members. Our WhatsApp allowed everyone an easy way to share their recipes and pictures of new things they were trying!