If you’re the type of person who can’t picture life without the occasional bacon and eggs breakfast, or for whom the thought of Thanksgiving without turkey is simply too much to bear, the idea of going vegetarian or – gasp! – vegan could be enough to send a chill down your spine.
And we get it! Changing our habits can be difficult, especially when it comes to the way we eat (plus, it’s hard to argue against the fact that bacon is, quite simply, delicious). So much of our relationship with food is intertwined in our cultural background, family history and emotional connections, the thought of changing all that in such a major way if you’ve never dabbled in a meat-free lifestyle can be daunting – especially if it involves passing on major food categories that you’ve grown up enjoying. But with so much evidence coming to light extolling the virtues of a plant-based diet, benefits ranging from better health to a healthier planet, it’s hard not to wonder if we should all be passing on dairy, meat and eggs.
It’s true, evidence has shown that reducing our consumption of meat could have a host of benefits, including reducing the production of greenhouse gasses that contribute to climate change, reducing the amount of agricultural land needed to farm livestock, and reducing the use of water and energy used to produce that burger on your plate. But it’s not just the planet that could benefit from a reduction in meat and animal product consumption – your own health stands to benefit as well. Reducing consumption of animal products could have beneficial effects on the heart, potentially prevent certain types of diabetes, and may support kidney health.
“Ok,” you’re probably thinking “that all sounds great, but I’m happy with my food choices!” And we don’t blame you, and not only that, we’re not here to change your mind. BUT (there’s always a but, isn’t there?) what if we told you that simply going meatless one day a week could support all these positive benefits? Call it a Meatless Monday, a vegetarian Tuesday or vegan Friday, whatever you want to call it, eschewing animal products just one day per week has been shown to have profound effects on the planet and our health, benefitting both your own well being and the Earth’s.
Benefits of a plant-based diet on the body:
- Eating more vegetables, legumes, pulses, nuts and seeds – and cutting out processed foods – could support heart health and may reduce the risk of heart disease.
- Reducing your meat consumption and eating more plants may support kidney health.
- Swapping foods like legumes and vegetables may help you support a healthy weight.
Benefits of a plant-based diet on the planet:
- Skipping one serving – one serving! – of red meat once a week for a year may save the equivalent emissions of driving nearly 400 miles. Now think about how many emissions would be saved is everyone in the US skipped meat for a day.
- Reducing our reliance on livestock for food would free up more agricultural land and cut back on deforestation (livestock production uses 75% of the planet’s farming land)
- Cutting back on meat consumption would also cut back on greenhouse gasses – livestock production produces more greenhouse gasses than all modes of transportation – cars, trucks, trains, planes – combined.
- Reducing our reliance on meat may reduce the world’s hunger – nearly half of the world’s crops are used to feed farm animals.
- It saves water. If everyone went meatless for just one day a week, it would save the equivalent in water of approximately 5,000 Olympic swimming pools.
Many people choose to go meatless on Monday because if its simplicity – the week is just getting started, it may feel good to focus on plants and healthy options after a fun-filled weekend, and planning around a specific theme may simplify the night’s menu – but any day of the week will work. Once you go meatless one day per week, you may even find yourself cutting back on animal products more often, searching out plant-based beauty products and experimenting with easy ways to eat less meat.
Need help finding delicious plant-based recipes? A simple search on Pinterest will yield a host of results, or check out some of our favorite (mostly) plant-based blogs for Meatless Monday inspiration:
*Not entirely plant-based but a wealth of vegan and vegetarian meals in the archives.
What are your tips for going meat-free, either all the time or once per week? Share with our community by tagging us on social @AvocadoMattress and #AvocadoGreenMagazine!