The average American eats 200 pounds of meat each year.
The average American female weighs 166 pounds.
The average American male weighs 196 pounds.
That's a whole human's weight in meat. And, 54 pounds of it comes from beef alone.
On average, it takes one gallon of fossil fuel and 2,500 gallons of water to produce just one pound of beef. Let's do the math. That's 54 gallons of pollution released into the air and 135,000 gallons of water taken from our reserves just for you to eat that slab of steak.
If everyone in America skipped eating meat and cheese for one day a week it would be the equivalent of taking 7.6 millions cars off the road.
How about giving up meat for one day each week?
Trust me, it's doable. A whole city in Europe has done it. Yes! Ghent, Belgium has dedicated Thursday as Veggie Day since 2009. The city is dubbed the Vegetarian Capital of Europe. All schools and government buildings are required to serve vegetarian dishes on Thursday. Tourist kiosks hand out vegetarian restaurant guides with over 95 veggie friendly restaurants. 12 of them are 100% vegetarian. The city encourages participation at home and even advertises Veggie Day on government websites.
Even the United States has done it! During World War I, in an effort to control food consumption, the U.S. Food Administration started a campaign called Meatless Monday. Over 13 million Americans signed a pledge to observe the national meatless conservation days. The campaign was so successful it was reintroduced during World War II. As the war subsided and America bounced back we pushed our conservation mentality aside.
In 2003, the campaign resurfaced again. This time, with a hashtag. #meatlessmonday is a global movement encouraging people to eat plant-based meals every Monday. Just check the hashtag. You will not regret the stream of inspiring rainbow colored meals the internet will send your way. In 2009, famed Paul McCartney from The Beatles launched Meat Free Monday in the U.K. to raise awareness of the detrimental environmental impact of the meat industry.
So, you don't want to consume your weight in meat this year? I guess you're wondering what your options are.
Let's be clear.
Meat is defined as the flesh of an animal. Chicken is meat. Although, fowl such as chicken is often referred to as poultry. Fish is meat. Although, fish is often left out in general conversation and discussions on the environmental effects of the meat industry.
EAT MEAT LESS OPTIONS
This option is for the bad-asses out there who jump right in. Or, those who have dabbled with a plant-based diet previously. Vegans do not eat the flesh of nor use by-products of animals. That means eggs and all dairy is out - cheese, cow's milk, yogurt, ice cream, etc. Luckily, a plethora of dairy substitutes can be found in grocery stores. Instead of cow's milk, give almond, soy, coconut, or even rice milk a try in your #meatlessmonday recipe. Cashew milk mac and cheese is a real and delicious thing, people!
So, you like salads and often opt for dinners without meat. You are curious and want to get your tongue wet. Vegetarians eat a plant-based diet. No red meat, white meat, or fish meat. Although, they may indulge in animal by-products like eggs, cheese, and dairy. Get your "meat fix" with alternatives made of beans, grains, and vegetables. A black bean burger piled high with corn salsa, jalapeño, and sharp cheddar, anyone? What about fettucini alfredo with Italian sausage made of mushrooms and grains?
They're just vegetarians who still eat fish and other seafood. Opt for the salmon steak over the rib eye. Get the fish filet instead of the filet mignon.
Whatever your reason is for cutting back on meat consumption in 2017, know that you will have a positive impact on the health of this planet we all call home. You also won't be carrying around that 200 pound guilt of dead animals any longer. Seems like a win-win situation to me. But, maybe, I'm lazy and 200 lbs of meat doesn't sound like a ridiculously, unnecessarily large amount to you.
Further reading: Meatless Monday Toolkit