Going meatless, even one day a week, benefits animals, the environment and our health.
Every year in Canada, more than 700 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 and its potential contribution to their solution is equally large. The impact is so significant that it needs to be addressed with urgency.”
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.
Plant-based eating is easier on the bottom line, too. At a Vancouver grocery store in March 2015, animal proteins were far more expensive both per pound and per gram of protein than plant proteins. With extra lean ground beef clocking in at $7.19 per pound, it is more than five times more expensive than tofu, chickpeas, or red lentils.
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 helped the following Lower Mainland schools implement initiatives in their cafeterias and are working with several other schools who are eager to join the movement too:
- Langara College
- British Columbia Institute of Technology
- Eric Hamber Secondary
- Winston Churchill Secondary
- Lions Gate Hospital
- Richmond Hospital
- UBC Hospital
- Vancouver General Hospital
- St. Paul’s Hospital
- Community Transitional Care Team
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 places like San Francisco, Washington, DC and Los Angeles.
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. Check out our Meatless tips and recipes and the “Meat-Free Monday Everywhere” online cookbook for more ideas and learn more about the importance of going meatless and about meatless protein sources.
Join the Meatless Monday movement! Download the appropriate Meatless Monday toolkit below to get started on your own campaign:
Contact Emily Pickett, Program Coordinator, at email@example.com for assistance.
You will receive free Meatless Monday recipes, tips and VHS updates.
Thank you to HSI Canada for their support of our farmed animal campaigns!