Go green on Meatless Monday
By Cara Lancellotti
As college students, we think about the state of the world and how we can improve it, probably because everyday we’re confronted with problems in the news and little political compromise from leaders in Washington to help solve them. Thankfully, at the local level, Northern Arizona University (NAU) is taking action to address student health, environmental sustainability and animal welfare by participating in the multinational Meatless Monday movement.
Whether you’re a longtime vegan or a meat and potatoes — minus the potatoes — kind of person, you can hopefully admit Americans could stand to eat less meat. We rank second in global meat consumption, which is taking a toll on our planet, animals and our bodies.
I’ve always considered myself an environmentally conscious person —I recycle, take short showers and carpool when possible — but, until a few years ago, I never gave any thought to the impact my food choices have on the environment, until one day I stumbled across an article about the impact meat production has on the environment. According to the United Nations, meat production is one of the top contributors to climate change, due to its high CO2 and methane emissions and vast use of water, land, and fossil fuels. In fact, the chair of the UN’s climate change panel, Dr. Rajendra Pachauri, recommends people eat less meat: “Give up meat for one day [a week] initially, and decrease it from there,” he said.
Environmental protection leaders such as Al Gore, and non-profits such as the Environmental Defense Fund, the Sierra Club and Greenpeace also advocate eating less meat. An article in The New York Times even said reducing your meat consumption by just 20 percent is like switching from a sedan to a hybrid car.
Meatless Monday helps animals too. I think most of my fellow classmates now know animals don’t live on Old MacDonald’s farm anymore, and are often crammed into large, filthy sheds, unable to breathe fresh air or see sunlight until the day they’re sent to slaughter. Mother pigs are stuffed into crates so small they can’t even turn around, and, similarly, egg-laying hens are put into small cages with less space than an iPad screen to live on for their entire lives, unable to flap their wings.
Lastly, reducing your meat consumption is an easy way to help your health — just ask President Clinton, who went on a mostly vegan diet, shedding 24 pounds and claiming he’s never felt better. It can help you live longer too — a Harvard study that came out this year found that replacing meat with high-protein plant sources such as beans and nuts could reduce mortality rates by as much as 11 percent.
With so many issues facing our nation and not many clear solutions offered, Meatless Monday just makes sense. Our generation is entering the workforce with an obesity epidemic, climate change and a broken food system that abuses over nine billion land animals a year. Meatless Monday is a common-sense approach to tackle some of our generation’s greatest problems. Our university is doing its part to solve some of these problems — let’s do our part too.