This year, in addition to the usual resolutions – exercise more, quit bad habits, practice patience (okay, maybe that’s just me), eat right – it would be great if we all resolved to make a change that would positively impact the planet in 2010.
If you only do one thing in the New Year, I’d like to suggest a resolution that is easy to do, saves money, is better for your health, and helps the environment too. It might sound too good to be true, but it’s not. Okay, here it is (drum roll please) …
Eat less meat.
That’s it – pretty simple. I’m not going to suggest you give up meat entirely and become a vegetarian – just eat a little less. If all Americans reduced their meat consumption by only 20 percent it would be equivalent of every single one of us switching from a standard sedan to a hybrid, according to calculations by geophysicists Gidon Eshel and Pamela A. Martin.
One of the easiest ways to begin eating less meat is to participate in a growing trend called Meatless Monday. One day a week, forgo meat and start a new healthy habit. Why Monday? Because studies suggest we are more likely to maintain behaviors begun on Monday throughout the week. That makes Monday the best day to make a change for the better for your health and the health of our planet.
Health benefits of eating less meat:
Reducing your saturated fat and your cholesterol intake may reduce your risk of chronic preventable conditions like cancer, heart disease, diabetes and obesity.
Eating less meat helps you lose weight. Fruits, vegetables and whole grains are great sources of fiber, which is totally absent in animal products. Fiber-rich foods make you feel full with fewer calories, resulting in lower calorie intake and less overeating. On average, Americans’ rich diet provides less than half the recommended daily quantity of fiber.
In recent studies, it has been found that vegetarians weigh less, have lower cholesterol, live longer, and have fewer serious diseases than those who eat meat.
Environmental benefits of eating less meat:
A diet filled with meat, eggs, and dairy is an extremely inefficient use of natural resources. It takes over 2000 gallons of water to produce one pound of meat, compared to 220 gallons of water per pound of tofu and just 25 gallons for a pound of wheat.
Over 80% of the agricultural land in the U.S. is used to grow food that we feed to farmed animals. These same farm animals produce over 130 times the amount of excrement as the entire human population in America each year (okay, that’s gross). All this waste ends up polluting our lands and waterways.
A 2006 report by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations concludes that animal agriculture contributes more greenhouse gases to the earth’s atmosphere than transportation – all cars, trucks, planes and ships in the world combined! So even better than driving a hybrid is eating less meat. It costs a lot less too.
Eating less meat reduces our dependence on fossil fuels. On average, about 40 calories of fossil fuel energy go into every calorie of feed lot beef in the U.S. Compare this to just 2.2 calories of fossil fuel energy needed to produce one calorie of plant-based protein.
Going meatless once a week can improve your health, save you money, and reduce your carbon footprint in a way that’s greater than any other single thing you can do as an individual consumer. You can pledge to participate in meatless Monday in 2010 at meatlessmonday.com.
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