We have all heard the rumors of Meatless Mondays but the national craze seems to be gaining momentum. Moe’s Southwest Grill and Lime Fresh Mexican Grill are just a few of the myriad of restaurants encouraging their customers to go meatless with discounts and other offers. Oprah’s Harpo Studios will be offering Meatless Monday meal and Oprah will be encouraging her audiences to go meatless… on Mondays. Oprah’s cohort Michael Pollan also supports the movement as a way to cut back meat for personal and planetary health.
Does anyone else find an irony that they want the public to turn to the pesticide saturated vegetables (that would be sarcasm because modern agricultural practices use careful application to ensure healthy, quality products).
“Harpo Productions, which produces The Oprah Winfrey Show, has decided to embrace Meatless Mondays at the Harpo Cafe. ‘You have to decide what’s right for you and for your family,’ says Oprah. ‘Half the battle is just being aware of where your food comes from and how it makes you feel,” states a quote on Mother Nature Network.
I can say that a good steak makes me feel pretty happy. Regardless of where it comes from I know the quality of my meat is guaranteed thanks to the United States Department of Agriculture. They are intimitely involved to ensure that whether meat is from my family friends’ Bluff View Farms or the National Steak Poultry (NSP) food producer.
So what is the point of Meatless Mondays anyways, besides participating in the growing trend of hurting producers locally and nationally? Well straight from meatlessmondays.com:
- LIMIT CANCER RISK: Hundreds of studies suggest that diets high in fruits and vegetables may reduce cancer risk. Both red and processed meat consumption are associated with colon cancer.
I am a big fan of having my cake and eating it too. There is no need to cut out meat to increase the amount of fruits and vegetables. There is room for all parts of healthy diet in our stomachs I can assure you. I realize that cancer is a serious problem in today’s society but cutting back on meat isn’t the answer. It is a vital part of our diets. Scientists are constantly speculating what foods cause cancer and which don’t and retracting findings it seems. The best we can do is eat a healthy diet, exercise, and hope our cells don’t mutate and reproduce controllably.
- REDUCE HEART DISEASE: Recent data from a Harvard University study found that replacing saturated fat-rich foods (for example, meat and full fat dairy) with foods that are rich in polyunsaturated fat (for example, vegetable oils, nuts and seeds) reduces the risk of heart disease by 19%
- FIGHT DIABETES: Research suggests that higher consumption of red and processed meat increase the risk of type 2 diabetes.
- CURB OBESITY: People on low-meat or vegetarian diets have significantly lower body weights and body mass indices. A recent study from Imperial College London also found that reducing overall meat consumption can prevent long-term weight gain.
- LIVE LONGER: Red and processed meat consumption is associated with modest increases in total mortality, cancer mortality and cardiovascular disease mortality.
- IMPROVE YOUR DIET. Consuming beans or peas results in higher intakes of fiber, protein, folate, zinc, iron and magnesium with lower intakes of saturated fat and total fat.
- REDUCE YOUR CARBON FOOTPRINT. The United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization estimates the meat industry generates nearly one-fifth of the man-made greenhouse gas emissions that are accelerating climate change worldwide . . . far more than transportation. And annual worldwide demand for meat continues to grow. Reining in meat consumption once a week can help slow this trend.
- MINIMIZE WATER USAGE. The water needs of livestock are tremendous, far above those of vegetables or grains. An estimated 1,800 to 2,500 gallons of water go into a single pound of beef. Soy tofu produced in California requires 220 gallons of water per pound.
Is the solution not to hydrate our cattle? Some producers are taking measures to limit their water usage by 7.5 percent. Regardless, I think that in comparrison to other water usage levels this number is minimal. Leaking toilets are even more of a culprit. It is estimated a leaking toilet can used as much as 90,000 gallons of water in a month. Imagine how much water is wasted growing lawns for decorations. I would say that is where the true wastefulness of our nations resources is. Give up watering lawns not eating beef. Where is the Humane Society of the United States on this issue?
- HELP REDUCE FOSSIL FUEL DEPENDENCE. On average, about 40 calories of fossil fuel energy go into every calorie of feed lot beef in the U.S. Compare this to the 2.2 calories of fossil fuel energy needed to produce one calorie of plant-based protein. Moderating meat consumption is a great way to cut fossil fuel demand.
I’m sure there is an argument for or against all of these reasonings of why not to eat meat or why to eat meat and we could chase each other in circles. So I have a few closing comments. Eat meat. It’s yummy and gives you all the ZIP you need. What’s ZIP? It stands for the zinc, iron and protein beef provides us. University of Arkansas’ Block and Bridle and Agricultural Communicators of Tomorrow have started a Meat on Mondays campaign to combat the Meatless Mondays campaign. The Meat on Mondays campaign includes handing out free packets of beef jerky and ZIP silly bands. The Arkansas Beef checkoff has funded the first round but the battle isn’t over yet. It’s time to join the crusade and dig into a juicy steak or hamburger. And I for one am willing to sacrifice (okay let’s be honest indulge myself) for.