Bring On the Meatless Mondays

Categories: Veg

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Happy belated birthday, sweet infant Jesus! Now that all that trimming the tree and wrapping presents is over, all Santa's cookies have been eaten, and all the stores are ready to mark down all the stuff you just bought by 60 percent, we can look ahead to the dawning of another year and the dreaded New Year's resolutions that come with it.

What's your resolution? Lose 15 pounds? Work out five times a week? Quit smoking or drink less alcohol? Come on, folks. Let's be reasonable.

This year I'm starting small; I'm making a resolution to eat meatless on Mondays. The hope is that I'll learn to be more adventurous in my eating and more balanced in my diet, and maybe even improve my health a little. However, there's an array of additional reasons to try Meatless Monday.

By now we're all familiar with the whole "local, seasonal" movement. You can hardly open a menu in this city without learning where that goat cheese in your salad came from or that the beef in your burger is raised locally and grass-fed. There's a new level of awareness regarding what we eat, where it comes from and what conditions it's being grown or raised under. Even corporate burrito hawkers Chipotle recently released a video (with hippie-country icon Willie Nelson crooning Coldplay) to illustrate the importance of sustainable agriculture over industrial farming.

In theory, I fully support all of this; the realities of factory farming and large-scale meat production are mildly nauseating, at best. But when it comes down to it, we vote with our dollars. That free-range, air-chilled chicken from Central Market tastes amazingly savory and delicious compared to a traditionally raised and processed bird, but it's also four times as expensive. I can't afford to put that on my table every night of the week, and I know that many of my friends, family and colleagues can't either. Perhaps by reducing my consumption slightly, I can be a little more selective about where my meat comes from, and support local and/or more humane operations by purchasing their products.

Let's go all earthy-crunchy for a moment and pretend that maybe, just maybe you care about your carbon footprint. The independent environmental research organization World Watch reported in 2009 that the production of livestock -- including the clearing of land for grazing and growing feed, maintaining the animals, and processing and transporting the meat -- is responsible for 51 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions. A 2010 report by the United Nations Environment Program concluded that agricultural production is responsible for 14 percent of the world's total land use and 70 percent of global freshwater consumption.

I'm not saying that I'm going veggie once a week to save the whales, but I am attempting to take a long hard look at my own consumer habits.

By the way, I'm not alone in this endeavor. A slew of celebrities, including Yoko Ono, Oprah, Top Chef hottie Padma Lakshmi and superchef Mario Batali have all publicly spoken out in support of the Meatless Monday movement. School districts and college campuses including Duke and UC Davis (I know, big shocker) have rolled out meatless meals in their cafeterias and dining halls. A search for #meatlessmonday on Twitter brings up hundreds of results, and there are many bloggers writing about their experiences, some of whom I'll be looking to for ideas on what to eat and what to cook in the coming weeks.

Feel free to join me in my endeavor or just point and laugh as I try my hand at this. We'll start next week.

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14 comments
tif1227
tif1227

First of all, I respect your opinion and recognize that everyone is entitled to their own opinion.  However, there are some facts I would like to share with you regarding some statements made in your article.  

Recent research done by Dr. Jude Capper with the Department of Animal Science at Washington State University shows that beef production is not harming the environment each of us share.  At the 2012 Cattle Industry Convention, she shared results of her research and said, "By improving productivity and everybody better understanding how to feed and raise cattle, we’ve actually cut the carbon footprint per pound of beef by 16% since 1977.”  The research you refer to falls into the popular perception that agriculture is leaving a negative impact on the environment.  Today's average American farmer feeds 155 people across the world compared to just 26 in 1960-talk about improved efficiency! America's farmers and ranchers are some of the world's greatest environmentalists you will find.  Several agricultural organizations present special awards to recognize such environmentalists at their annual meetings.  

Rather than complaining about eating locally produced food, restaurants in your area should be commended for supporting local producers and the local economy.  By providing their customers with fresh, locally grown foods, they are serving customers food that has not been filled with preservatives to maintain freshness.  Also, by buying local they are providing further support to producers by allowing them to receive a greater share of the dollar spent on food without having middlemen take their share out of it.  

As you plan to cut meat out of your diet on Mondays, it is important for you to realize how much you will have to consume to make up for the nutrients you are taking out of your diet that meat provides.  Lean beef is best known for the zinc, iron, protein, vitamin B12, niacin and other essential nutrients it provides in a small 3 oz. serving.  In fact, a 3 oz. serving has only 154 calories, which is less than 10% of a 2,000 calorie daily diet.  Another benefit of beef is that including beef in your daily diet has been shown to reduce cholesterol. Pork, chicken and fish also provide low fat, nutrient rich choices for your diet.  

As you look to balance out your diet and perhaps improve your waistline in 2012, the best way to do so is to include meat in your diet seven days a week.  

AWellFedWorld
AWellFedWorld

It is so great that you are doing Meatless Mondays. Decreasing our meat consumption is a great way to lighten our carbon footprint and tread lightly. It also saves hundreds of lives! My organization goes into details on the hows and whys of eating meatless and how doing so does dramatic good for the planet and the animals. please see www.awellfedworld.org for more info.

Chef Rolo Cantu
Chef Rolo Cantu

Sundown at Granda has a GREAT menu for these meatless Mondays you speak of :)

Kitchen is expected to launch January 13th!

"See you at Sundow!"

Dawn
Dawn

Veggie Girl, three cheers for your efforts to improve your health.  In your quest to gain knowledge, I encourage you to be a "critical and balanced thinker" of information sources. As a beef producer and family farmer, I, too, am concerned about the nutritive value and safety of the foods served to my family.  In your efforts to discern facts and determine your position on the impact of agriculture on the environment and nutrition, please review this article: http://www.explorebeef.org/new...  Should you be interested in further scientific-based information and research, specifically on beef but also other meat protein sources, check out www.beef.org, www.webmd.com or www.explorebeef.org.

John
John

Based on scientific research, health should not be a reason to refrain from eating meat. Just eat it in the right quantities in terms of calories and nutirents you need.

donna gafford
donna gafford

wow! love your first sentence! love the article without reading it! have an awesome new year!

cp
cp

Geez this is so stupid. Why does anyone have to go broke eating free-range chicken? Let's all go back to the food pyramid and we'll see that meats are are the very least of the structure of our daily food habits. You don't have to eat a whole pound of meat every single day! Grains and vegetables should be the majority of what we eat, every day. Sure, you can eat meat every day, just a small portion. Why is this so hard to fathom???

Kergo 1 Spaceship
Kergo 1 Spaceship

I celebrated Meatless Monday by going to Texas Land and Cattle, and getting a steak cooked rare.  The blood was DRIPPING down my palate.  YUM.

Saku
Saku

Too bad Veggie Garden and Spiral Diner (maybe other veg restaurants too) are closed on Monday! I really think they are missing out!Mondays are my day off so I wish these places were open! (I'm vegetarian 7 days a week)

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin

Meatless MondayTopless TuesdayWhataburger WednesdayThirsty ThursdayFatFree FridaysStripperless SaturdaysSinless Sundays

Josh's broken records
Josh's broken records

I'd like to make a suggestion for all the vagetarians, why not just have McRib or McNugget Mondays? That's not officially meat.  Problem solved, and I'm with Kergs..y'all carry on with the meatless Monday stuff..leaves more for me.

Been thinking about a Porkducken..no ducks involved actually: a pork tenderloin stuffed with sausage and then wrapped in bacon..saw a variation on the tele..Methinks Yu Darvish would call it Pork 3 way.

therrick
therrick

Striperless Saturdays!? Unheard of sir! That is prime stripper time.

cp
cp

Or Taco Bell, since that apparently contains no meat at all...

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin

just like monday is my prime meat day, recovering from a weekend of partying nothing helps my week more than a big juicy steak and a potato in any form. 

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