June 2009 Issue

Meatless Mondays Are Good for You…and the Earth

Okay, so you’re environmentally inclined, but not exactly ready to embrace a vegan lifestyle. Still, you know juicy hamburgers, a succulent T-bone and meatballs with your spaghetti are not the most healthful choices for dinner. But forgoing meat doesn’t have to be an all or nothing proposition. Try this to improve your health, as well as the health of the environment: Eat less meat, especially red meat, by making your Mondays meatless. Skip Meat for a Day…or More. The germ of this concept was born in response to a report called "Healthy People 2010," issued by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. One of the report’s health goals is to reduce saturated fat intake by 15%. Nutritionists at Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future wanted to be even more specific than that. They discovered everyone is willing to forgo meat one day a week. And thus was born a concept: Meatless Monday. "We found that a campaign to get consumers to skip meat and other saturated-fat-containing foods one day a week would naturally get them to the recommended intake," said Robert Lawrence, M.D., professor at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Why Go Meatless? In the1960s, Americans ate less than 160 pounds of meat per person per year. By 2002, meat consumption had burgeoned 37% to 220 pounds per year—that’s more than half a pound of meat per person per day, every day! Why aim to eat less meat? Research shows that vegetarians have lower rates of high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and some cancers (breast, colorectal and prostate). Plus eating less meat can help control body weight, because the additional bulk produce and whole grains add to your diet helps keep you fuller on fewer calories. Indeed, vegetarians weigh less, on average, than meat-eaters.

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