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All the world is nuts about

    What's in The Nut Gourmet

The Nutty Gourmet

Vegetarians in Paradise

Vegetarianism in the News

June 1, 2010 -- Vegparadise News Bureau

    Meatless Monday:
    An Initiative We Should All Support

If we are judged by the company we keep, we are in good company. Vegetarians in Paradise bedfellows turn out to be an impressive group of organizations interested in public health.

The roster of organizations includes Columbia University Mailman School of Health, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, and Syracuse University Newhouse School of Public Communications. They're all on board to promote Meatless Monday, a campaign to improve national health and benefit the environment. We would like to urge our readers to join us in bringing this message to the attention of the public.

Our first effort in joining the campaign began with in a letter to the President of Kaiser Permanente Southern California asking his organization to join the Meatless Monday drive. In coming weeks we plan to contact community and school leaders in the Los Angeles/Southern California area to urge their participation.

How it all started
Although Meatless Monday was launched in 2003, it did not gain international prominence until April 2009 when Meatless Monday launched an informational video noting the effects of meat consumption on climate change.

Meatless Monday Video Since then school districts on both coasts have signed on to the campaign. Baltimore City Public School System with 85,000 students was the first school district in the United States to begin each week with a Meatless Monday.

On the West Coast, Oakland Unified School District joined the movement with 28,000 students in their elementary and middle schools. Each school offers fresh produce at breakfast and lunch and holds farmers markets and cooking classes so students can share this knowledge with their families.

San Francisco became the first city in the United States to proclaim a Meatless Monday, even though they call it "Vegetarian Day." The San Francisco Board of Supervisors encourages restaurants, schools, and grocers to offer plant-based options. When it comes to being the first city worldwide to declare a meatless day, San Francisco loses to Ghent, Belgium, that was a year ahead in establishing "Veggie Days." While the their meatless day focus is the same, Ghent has selected Thursdays to implement their program. Sao Paulo, Brazil, and Tel Aviv, Israel, have also chosen to follow Ghent's lead.

Two University of California campuses have approached the meatless day in different ways. UC Davis has set a goal of convincing 1,000 students and employees to forgo flesh on the first day of the week. UC Santa Barbara began a Monday plan to remove beef from all of its cafeterias and all meat from one cafeteria.

Even Al Gore, who initially refused to recognize the global pollution caused by animal agriculture, now includes Meatless Monday as one of the Top Twelve Things You Can Do for a Better World. Although he ignored animal agriculture in his original An Inconvenient Truth, he now says, "Try Meatless Mondays. Skipping meat one day per week could save over 35,000 gallons of water. Cutting meat out of your diet entirely would help save 5,000 lbs. of carbon emissions per year."

Meat industry fights back
The animal agriculture industry has not exactly rolled over and played downer cow. It is fighting back by lobbying to keep the government recommendation that everyone eat two servings of meat daily in the dietary guidelines to be issued by the US Department of Agriculture in the fall of 2010.

The American Meat Institute, the Animal Agriculture Alliance, the Missouri Beef Council, and the editors of Pork Magazine have all been in attack mode to oppose Meatless Mondays. The American Meat Institute has written a public letter to Baltimore's City Schools CEO Andrés Alonso saying their organization was "disturbed" by the initiative and that "meat and poultry may be the only significant source of protein" in the Baltimore kids' diets. An editorial in Pork Magazine declared, "The Baltimore school officials have taken it upon themselves to relieve dietitians and nutritionists of part of their duties, at least for the first day of the school week." The Animal Agriculture Alliance joined the fray by urging citizens who were shocked by Meatless Mondays to contact Baltimore Schools CEO Alonso.

Meatless Monday We can join the battle
Vegetarians in Paradise urges all of our readers around the world to support the Meatless Monday initiative by joining us in our campaign to use personal contacts or letters to persuade fellow citizens and community organizations to adopt Meatless Monday.

For those who need talking or writing points to emphasize, we offer these suggestions.

Health Considerations

  1. Even avoiding meat one day each week will reduce your saturated fat consumption and cut your risk of heart disease.
  2. Diets emphasizing fruits and vegetables reduce the risk of cancer, while red meat consumption increases the risk of colon cancer.
  3. Plant-based diets reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes.
  4. People following plant-based diets are less likely to be obese.
  5. Plant-based diets are excellent for weight control because they emphasize fiber that makes a person feel full while consuming fewer calories.
  6. A plant-strong diet of fruits, vegetables, beans, whole grains, nuts, and seeds will provide a wide array of vitamins and minerals not obtainable from meat.
  7. Seventy percent of total US healthcare spending goes toward the treatment of chronic preventable diseases.
  8. Eating a wide variety of plant based foods and consuming sufficient calories to feel satisfied will provide plenty of protein.

Environmental Concerns

  1. The meat industry worldwide is responsible for 65% of global nitrous oxide emissions. Nitrous oxide is 300 times more potent in global warming than carbon dioxide.
  2. Livestock production accounts for 37% of human-induced methane gas. Methane is 23 times as warming as carbon dioxide.
  3. A family of four eating vegetarian one day a week reduces green house gas emissions equivalent to driving 1,160 miles less. The same family eating all meals vegetarian reduces emissions by 60% or the equivalent of driving almost 8000 miles less.
  4. Creating one pound of beef takes 16 pounds of grain and 2,500 gallons of water.
  5. Twenty percent of the world's population is employed in livestock production. Sixty billion animals are raised for food each year. About 70% of the world's farmland is dedicated to livestock production.
  6. Almost two trillion pounds of animal waste are produced each year in the US. That's 130 times the waste generated by humans.
  7. Approximately 40 calories of fossil fuel energy go into every calorie of feedlot beef in the US compared to 2.2 calories of fossil fuel in the production of plant-based protein.

We encourage you to take an active role in promoting Meatless Monday instead of passively waiting for others to gain success in moving this issue forward. Many of our readers are aware of more humane reasons for people to adopt a Meatless Monday, especially the cruelty concerns that motivate many of us to be vegetarians. We feel the general public can be approached more readily by emphasizing the health and environmental issues.

Keep us informed by sending us emails telling of your efforts. We will gladly share your successes with our readers and promise to enlighten you with additional information about our efforts to encourage more people and organizations to adopt Meatless Monday.

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