Quantcast

Can You Give Up Meat for a Whole Month?

Food
Unsplash

October 1 marks the 41st annual World Vegetarian Day and the start of Vegetarian Awareness month.

The annual occasion was founded in 1977 by the North American Vegetarian Society and was endorsed by the International Vegetarian Union in 1978 to entice omnivores "to give meatless fare a try (even for a day)" and to commend those with "healthy, compassionate food choices."


People avoid—or eat less—meat and animal products for many reasons, including health, ethical and/or environmental reasons. As the organizers of World Vegetarian Day tout on their website: "You will be helping to create a better world because vegetarian diet[s] have proven health benefits, save animals' lives and help to preserve the Earth."

Jasmijn de Boo, the director of ProVeg International, the world's largest vegetarian organization, recently spoke with BBC World Service about the conscious eating movement and how the livestock industry contributes to numerous forms of environmental degradation.

"We see two trends happening globally," de Boo said. "One is that people are more interested in healthy eating and have more of a conscious awareness of animal suffering and the environmental impact of livestock farming, so people are making different choices for what they eat."

"At the same time," she continued, "we do see that there is population growth and that some of the developing countries are consuming more animal products, but it is unsustainable and an increasing number of studies show that it's very, very damaging for the environment and that global climate change is massively impacted by livestock farming."

The climate impact of eating meat includes deforestation from soybean production to feed pork, poultry and dairy cows, as well as the methane emissions from manure and livestock rumination, de Boo explained.

The percentage of Americans who have 100 percent meat-free diets has not changed much in the last 20 years, according to a Gallup poll last month, in which 5 percent of respondents said they are vegetarian, and 3 percent said they are vegan.

However, "flexitarian," "climatarian" and "reducetarian" diets—in which people occasionally or rarely eat meat or animal products—have become movements where people are working towards goals of improving the health of their bodies and the planet, as wrote Brian Kateman for The Atlantic.

For instance, the global Meatless Monday movement, which was founded back in 2003, is now practiced by millions in more than 40 countries. Additionally, the U.S. plant-based "fake meat" sector has boomed into a $5 billion industry due to the public's increasing appetite for healthier, more humane and environmentally sustainable food products.

The organizers of World Vegetarian Day are challenging non-vegetarians to abstain from meat for the day, and even throughout the month. Those who make the pledge to go meat-free during the month of October, even if it's just for a day, can enter to win a drawing for $1,000.

For more information, check out these articles about the environmental impact of the livestock industry and why a plant-based diet can be good for people, animals and the planet:

Comprehensive Animal Protein Study Compares Environmental Impacts: "A study said that avoiding meat and dairy is probably the single best consumer choice you can make for the environment."

New Drone Footage Exposes the Horrors of Factory Farming: "Nearly all animals raised and slaughtered for food in the U.S. live in factory farms—facilities that treat animals as mere production units and show little regard for the natural environment or public health."

15 Best Protein Alternatives to Meat Besides Tofu: "Do you hate tofu? Or are you just plain sick of it? Check out these 15 tasty alternatives to both meat and tofu that will make you smack your lips in delight."

Which Is Worse for the Planet: Beef or Cars? "Livestock emissions make up anywhere between 14.5 and 18 percent of total global greenhouse gas emissions. Comparably, the transportation sector is responsible for around 14 percent of emissions. By those numbers alone, our current system of meat production is extremely damaging."

Mounting Evidence Shows Eating Less Meat = Healthy People, Healthy Planet: "A new systematic review of dietary patterns and sustainability published in the latest edition of Advances in Nutrition provides additional evidence that diets lower in animal-based foods and higher in plant-based foods are better for the health of people and the planet."

9 Health Benefits of Going Vegan: "There are science-backed benefits of opting for a vegan lifestyle. Researchers have found that a healthy vegan diet is something worth considering."

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Juvenile hatchery salmon flushed from a tanker truck in San Francisco Bay, California. Ben Moon

That salmon sitting in your neighborhood grocery store's fish counter won't look the same to you after watching Artifishal, a new film from Patagonia.

Read More Show Less
Natdanai Pankong / EyeEm / Getty Images

By Lauren Panoff, MPH, RD

Coconut meat is the white flesh inside a coconut.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Arx0nt / Moment / Getty Images

By Taylor Jones, RD

Oats are a highly nutritious grain with many health benefits.

Read More Show Less
Pexels

Get ready to toast bees, butterflies and hummingbirds. National Pollinator Week is June 17-23 and it's a perfect time to celebrate the birds, bugs and lizards that are so essential to the crops we grow, the flowers we smell, and the plants that produce the air we breathe.

Read More Show Less
Alexander Spatari / Moment / Getty Images

It seems like every day a new diet is declared the healthiest — paleo, ketogenic, Atkins, to name a few — while government agencies regularly release their own recommended dietary guidelines. But there may not be an ideal one-size-fits-all diet, according to a new study.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Logging shown as part of a thinning and restoration effort in the Deschutes National Forest in Oregon on Oct. 22, 2014. Oregon Department of Forestry / CC BY 2.0

The U.S Forest Service unveiled a new plan to skirt a major environmental law that requires extensive review for new logging, road building, and mining projects on its nearly 200 million acres of public land. The proposal set off alarm bells for environmental groups, according to Reuters.

Read More Show Less
Maskot / Getty Images

By Kris Gunnars, BSc

It's easy to wonder which foods are healthiest.

Read More Show Less
Homes in Washington, DC's Brookland neighborhood were condemned to clear room for a highway in the 1960s. The community fought back. Brig Cabe / DC Public Library

By Teju Adisa-Farrar & Raul Garcia

In the summer of 1969 a banner hung over a set of condemned homes in what was then the predominantly black and brown Brookland neighborhood in Washington, DC. It read, "White man's roads through black men's homes."

Earlier in the year, the District attempted to condemn the houses to make space for a proposed freeway. The plans proposed a 10-lane freeway, a behemoth of a project that would divide the nation's capital end-to-end and sever iconic Black neighborhoods like Shaw and the U Street Corridor from the rest of the city.

Read More Show Less