Meatless Monday just got a major new supporter: an entire city! Boca Raton, Florida isn’t just the place where old people hang out in retirement anymore. It’s now the proud sponsor of Meatless Mondays for residents, in part of an initiative to promote health, wellbeing and a reduced environmental footprint for the whole city. While Boca Raton cops won’t be sniffing in kitchen windows every Monday evening to see what people are cooking, the hope is that residents will get interested in vegetarian options.
This move raises the profile of Meatless Monday not just locally, but nationwide, as evidenced by the fact that we’re talking about it all the way over here in the Bay Area. For local residents, it’s good news. A fifth of the population in Boca Raton is over 65 (I wasn’t kidding about that old people thing), and reducing meat consumption is a good idea for seniors, who can experience health benefits if they cut even a little bit of meat from their diets. Replacing a meat-based or meat-heavy meal with one that’s rich in lots of vegetables and a protein source like lentils or beans offers fresh, exciting nutrition and some variation in diet, which is also very healthy.
Some older adults have trouble eating consistent, healthy meals, and switching things up a bit can help stimulate appetite and get people on track with a diet and exercise plan to stay healthy and flexible as they age. In regions like Florida, where the weather is warm and much of the population is elderly, programs like Meatless Monday are part of a larger community framework designed to support older adults, including yoga and other exercise classes adapted to them, along with opportunities for non-loadbearing exercise like swimming, which is beneficial for older bodies.
But Meatless Monday isn’t just about eating vegetarian food for health. It’s also about raising awareness of carbon footprints. In the United States, raising animals for meat is not a very efficient use of available resources, as crops have to be raised as fodder for farm animals. Thus, a great deal of land is used, along with water, fertilizer, and other farming supplies. Furthermore, considerable fuel is used in transport of crops, animals, processed meats and various accoutrements involved in the agriculture industry. Cutting even a day of meat out of your diet can help you radically reduce your carbon footprint: reducing your meat consumption even more will be correspondingly better.
By getting people to think about how much meat they eat and where they get it from, Boca Raton is challenging citizens to ask themselves what they can do for the environment and for their health. In Florida, a region severely threatened by climate change and rising sea levels, these are important questions to ask, because what you put on your plate today could have real consequences in five or ten years, or for the next generation.
While 65-year-olds now might not be too worried about the long term, although they should be, they might want to consider where the next generation of seniors will settle once they’ve entered their hard-earned retirements.
Photo credit: Jennifer.