Going meatless, even one day a week, benefits animals, the environment and our health.
Every year in Canada, more than 800 million land animals are killed to satisfy our demand for huge quantities of cheap meat, dairy, and eggs. The vast majority of these animals are raised in unnatural, filthy, barren environments; subjected to confinement and cruelty that would be illegal if we were to do it to a cat or dog; and ultimately slaughtered at a fraction of their natural lifespan.
For every single person who adopts a diet free of meat, including fish and shellfish for just one day per week, more than 58 animals will be spared.
Reducing our consumption of animal products and increasing our intake of fruits, vegetables, and legumes—cornerstones of a plant-based diet—have been linked to a host of health benefits. Vegetables and fruits protect against heart disease, stroke, and cancer while meat increases the risk of cancer. Plant-based eating reduces the risk of both type 2 diabetes and obesity and are associated with a longer lifespan. And beans and peas contain vital nutrients that are in short supply in our nutritionally deprived society, while being fat-free.
In February 2015, the US Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee stated, “a diet higher in plant-based foods, such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds, and lower in calories and animal-based foods is more health promoting.” They specifically named vegetarianism as one of the three healthy dietary patterns. And for the first time, they acknowledged the environmental impact of our eating choices, saying that the same plant-based diet that protects our health is one that has less environmental impact. These guidelines are the consensus of multidisciplinary top-tier public health scientists and are insulated from lobbyists and special-interest groups.
In a major report, the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization found “livestock’s contribution to environmental problems is on a massive scale..the impact is so significant that it needs to be addressed with urgency.”
The most comprehensive analysis to date recently revealed the huge environmental footprint of animal agriculture. The global study found that while meat and dairy provide just 18% of our calories and 37% of our protein, it uses 83% of farmland and produces 60% of agriculture’s greenhouse gas emissions.
The scientists also found that even the very lowest impact meat and dairy products still cause much more environmental harm than the least sustainable plant-based crops. They concluded that avoiding meat and dairy products is the single biggest way to reduce our environmental impact on the planet.
Animal agriculture is so devastating for the planet for a simple reason: raising plant crops to feed livestock is far less efficient than eating plant crops directly. Thanks to its incredible inefficiencies, animal agriculture is responsible for more greenhouse gases than the entire transportation sector.
In fact, peer-reviewed research shows that strictly eating plant-based foods one day per week reduces our personal GHG footprints more than eating local seven days per week would.
In addition to climate change, animal agriculture is a major contributor to air and water pollution, water use, land degradation and deforestation, biodiversity decline, and ocean degradation.
Leaders in the meatless movement
VHS encourages citizens, schools, businesses and the community as a whole to embrace plant-based eating on Mondays.
Since the 2015 launch of our Meatless Monday campaign, we’ve supported the following institutions in participating in Meatless Monday. VHS is also working with several others who are eager to join the movement:
- Langara College
- Capilano University
- British Columbia Institute of Technology
- Simon Fraser University
- University of British Columbia
- Eric Hamber Secondary
- Winston Churchill Secondary
- David Thompson Secondary
- Sutherland Secondary
- Lord Byng Secondary
- Argyle Secondary
- Seycove Secondary
- Handsworth Secondary
- Magee Secondary
- Britannia Secondary
- Kwantlen Polytechnic University
- Kitsilano Secondary
- Community Transitional Care Team
- BC Children’s & Women’s Hospital
- Cabrito Tapas Restaurant on Commercial Drive
- Laziza Cafe
- KinderMeals Lunch Program
- Restaurant Associates
Interested in bringing Meatless Monday to your school, workplace, business or community? Get in touch!
In May of 2016, the Vancouver Food Policy Council, an advisory group to City Council and an important and respected voice in food policy, unanimously passed a motion that “endorses the concept of Meatless Mondays and encourages Vancouver citizens to choose plant-based meals on Mondays.” This is a huge step in a humane, healthy and sustainable direction for the community!
Meatless Monday continues to grow globally, with hundreds of schools running initiatives in their cafeterias. In fact, entire school districts have embraced Meatless Monday, including Baltimore, Boston, LA and Philadelphia. Food service companies like Sodexo, Chartwells and Compass Group have also brought Meatless Monday to their clients. Entire municipalities are even taking part, including Vancouver, North Vancouver, Port Moody and New Westminster, which each passed May 15th, 2017 Meatless Monday proclamations encouraging citizens to participate.
Make Your Mondays Meatless
Many of us are already consuming plant-based meals without even realizing it. Global cuisines from Indian, to Chinese, to Thai, to Ethiopian, to Lebanese feature flavour-packed vegetarian dishes. Even familiar foods, such as pasta primavera, peanut butter, and baked beans are vegetarian family favourites.
Still stuck for ideas? Serve up black beans in tacos, sear tofu for stir fries, swap lentils for beef in pasta sauce, bulk up your chilis with extra beans, add chickpeas to your curries, and spread hummus on sandwiches. Veggie dogs and burgers, along with other vegetarian meats, are delicious, fast, and widely available from local supermarkets. Visit our pinterest page for Meatless tips and recipes, as well as the “Meat-Free Monday Everywhere” online cookbook for more ideas. Learn more about the importance of going meatless and consider checking out Vancouver’s Meatless Meetup for group dinners and opportunities to connect with others interested in eating more plant-based foods!
Join the Meatless Monday movement! Download the toolkit below to get started on your own school campaign:
Contact Emily Pickett, Program Coordinator, at email@example.com for assistance.
You will receive free Meatless Monday recipes, tips and VHS updates.