The vegan diet is a more effective way of curbing climate change than driving a hybrid car (according to a 2009 study by researchers at the University of Chicago). This is worth repeating: eating less meat is a more effective way to help the environment than driving a hybrid car or reducing the amount you drive your vehicle.

Meatless Monday is an international campaign that started in 2003.  The non-profit initiative encourages people to cut meat out of their diets once a week to promote environmental sustainability and preventative health.  This campaign has become an international movement, with cities in U.S.A., Belgium, France, The United Kingdom, Brazil, Holland, Canada, Finland, Taiwan and Australia promoting Meatless Mondays.  Ghent, Belgium was the first city to officially promote Meatless (Thursdays, or VeggieDag, in their case) with government-funded support.  In April of this year San Francisco council adopted a meat-free resolutionMeatless Mondays is now endorsed by celebrities such as Paul McCartney, Alec Baldwin, Chris Martin, Al Gore, Gwyneth Paltrow, Michael Pollan and Mario Batali.

There are three main reasons outlined in the media to reduce meat consumption:

1. Reduce your carbon footprint and help fight global warming

Cutting meat out of our diets is by far the most effective way to reduce our carbon footprint.  Animal agriculture is responsible for 18 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions -more than those emitted by all forms of transportation combined (which account for 13 per cent) and is a leading cause of deforestation and water pollution.  In Canada, it takes seven times more land to feed a non-vegetarian than to feed a vegetarian. With one-third of the world’s cereal harvest and 90 per cent of the world’s soy harvest being raised for animal feed, the energy required to grow these crops is a major factor in toxic gas emissions.

2. Help your current and future personal health

Avoiding meat and high-fat animal products lowers blood pressure and blood cholesterol levels, decreases obesity and prevents heart disease, stroke, diabetes and cancer.  Cutting out meat once a week will increase veggie and greens consumption and make you aware of alternatives to the standard North American diet.  It’s time we start taking responsibility for the impact the food we eat and the lifestyle we live has on our health and well being.  Read more about this.

3. Boycott animal cruelty

The factory farming system of modern agriculture strives to maximize output while minimizing costs.  From PETA: Animals on today’s factory farms have no legal protection from cruelty that would be illegal if it were inflicted on dogs or cats: neglect, mutilation, genetic manipulation, and drug regimens that cause chronic pain and crippling, transport through all weather extremes, and gruesome and violent slaughter. Yet farmed animals are no less intelligent or capable of feeling pain than are the dogs and cats we cherish as companions.

For a clear portrayal of the brutality of standard factory farming, watch Meet Your Meat.

As outlined in the documentary Food Inc., increasingly strict laws are being passed in the States that make it illegal for consumers to view the conditions of factory farms owned by large corporations, like Monsanto.  The fact that government-backed laws can be implemented that block us from viewing the food we are putting into our bodies epitomizes the misconstrued realities of the modern food industry.

This movement is hot hot hot and we’re bring it to Victoria, baby!

For my PR and Marketing class my team is currently putting together a PR campaign to promote Meatless Mondays here in Victoria.  Although this started as a hypothetical campaign, we are now in touch with Trevor Murdock of Vancouver Island Vegetarian Association, who is planning to actually get the campaign going here in the city!  I had the opportunity to talk about Meatless Mondays on CFUV’s Break’in Ice: The Climate Change Reality Radio Show, with Richard Habgood and Brian Gordon.  There should be a podcast of the show out soon.  If any city in Canada is going to be a Meatless Monday city it should be Victoria.  We can be leaders in health promotion here on the West Coast and increase our notoriety as a forward-thinking and green city.

Cutting meat out of your diet one of the seven days a week isn’t the biggest deal

Check out MeatlessMonday.com for ways to get involved, meat-free recipes and other news about the international movement.  What it comes down to is that not eating pork, beef, or fish one out of seven days of the week is not the biggest deal in the world. If choosing a veggie burger instead of a beef burger once a week will have a significant impact on the health of your own body and everybody’s planet – can you really say no to that?

What’s important to know is that if you join in Meatless Mondays, you’re not saying that you’re going to become a vegetarian.  It’s not an all-or-nothing deal – the point of the campaign is to raise awareness around the global impacts of meat consumption and start a discussion and provide knowledge for people in their everyday lives.

Cut out meat once a week and help your planet, your body, and the animals.

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