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Change a meal, save the planet?

Posted Jan 22 2009 6:03pm
Try going vegetarian at least once a week.Eating 20% less meat makes the same impact as switching to a hybrid car.

I think we can all agree that we would like to do our part in helping to save our planet. Sometimes we just don’t know what we, as individuals, can do to make a difference. Oh, we know to recycle whenever possible and to drink our water out of reusable containers, to avoid Styrofoam - and maybe we even have a reusable grocery bag. And all of those things help. But can we do more?

There are those who feel going meatless just one day per week can have a significant impact on our environment . WannaVeg.com has a post on the top ten ways you can make a difference over the course of a year just by going vegetarian one day a week - including saving 84,000 gallons of water, 245 pounds of grain, 15.5 gallons of gasoline, and 87 square feet of topsoil from erosion. Check out their site for further information on those claims.

And if working to save the environment doesn’t convince you, what about your health?

Meatless Monday, a non-profit organization working in association with Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, is a national public health campaign to help prevent heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and cancer -- four of the leading causes of death in America. A simple way to prevent these diseases is to eat a diet lower in saturated fat. Eliminating meat and high fat dairy for just one day a week will reduce your consumption of saturated fats by 15%. Fifteen. In one day. Fairly significant, don’t you think?

For the tightwads budget-conscious among us, think of the cost savings. Compare the price of a bag of dried beans, for example, with the cost of a pound or so of beef. Have you LOOKED at meat prices lately?

At a loss as to what you could eat on a meatless day? Italian food immediately springs to mind. Baked ziti with a meatless sauce, stuffed shells, vegetable lasagna. And what about a cheese or vegetarian pizza? Lots of beans in Mexican food. Seafood also seems to be on the A-OK list because of its high nutritional content. How about fish one day and totally meatless another? Too much? Okay, sorry. Whatever you choose, my guess is that your family won’t even notice that you’re doing it.

From a health standpoint; from an environmental standpoint; from a budgetary standpoint - it just makes sense.

(By the way, my two very beautiful nieces both adopted a vegetarian lifestyle at the beginning of this year and are blogging about it over at Carnivore No More. Cute name, huh? Keep an eye on them for some delicious vegetarian recipes and tips.)

I realize some of these environmental claims seem a little on the inflated side – I have a hard time wrapping my mind around the fact that an average person like me, who might eliminate one 4-ounce chicken breast and a paltry pork chop on any given day of the week, could single handedly save 7700 square feet of rain forest in the course of a year.

Still, what if we could?

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