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The Part-Time Vegetarian

The Part-Time Vegetarian

One meat-free day a week. That’s all they ask.

And by they, I mean the United Nations, who has issued a call for all citizens of the world to go vegetarian one day a week to curb global warming.

I would think that even the most meat-loving person could manage such a feat, and while I am no tofu revolutionary, someone like me who basically just eats chicken and fish (ooh! I wonder if there’s such a thing as a sushitarian?) and the very occasional hamburger definitely can.

Now I know what you’re thinking: Why not go whole hog, so to speak? Go completely vegetarian. Vegan even. You’re thinking such a small measure as refraining from eating meat just one day a week is a half-hearted attempt at best. What’s the point?

But the average American consumes around 250 pounds of meat annually. Going veggie just once a week will reduce that by 35 pounds of meat. That is not insubstantial. Multiply that by the more than 300 million people living in the United States, and well, you get the idea.

According to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization, meat production accounts for nearly one-fifth of global greenhouse gas emissions. Most of this can be attributed to animal feeds, and when you consider that it takes 7 pounds of grain to produce just 1 pound of beef it makes perfect sense. There’s also the issue of the methane emitted by cows, 23 times more effective as a global warming agent than carbon dioxide.

For the sake of global warming, I agree that it would be ideal for everyone to stop eating meat altogether. But itís not always realistic, even for someone as well-meaning as I am, and definitely not for the average American who isnít totally convinced that global warming is really†that†big a deal.

So that’s why I think the one meatless day a week idea has legs. I mean, I don’t eat meat for breakfast so that’s no problem. A totally awesome salad for lunch is good for me and the planet, and dinner choices abound–even if you don’t like†tofu (which I actually do). Here is a collection of vegan recipes that I think will surprise you in their diversity and some tempting tofu recipes that go beyond the boring.

The great thing about the one-meatless-day-a-week thing is that it forces you to think outside the barn for meal ideas, and I think most people would be pleasantly surprised to find that they don’t even miss the meat. And hey, if one day turns into two and that turns into three–well then, the planet thanks you.

So I am going to do what I can to help this idea catch fire and I urge you to do so too. Start with your family and friends and see how many people you get to join you in going vegetarian one day a week. And if you already are a vegetarian, may I suggest a kinder and gentler approach? A challenge to just try not eating meat once a week might go over a lot better than, for example, a tirade about how carnivores must reform immediately. Just saying.

I do think eventually I will give up my wicked meat-eating ways. But for now, just call me a part-time vegetarian, full-time lover of the planet Earth.

Read more: Eating for Health, News & Issues, Shades of Green, , , , ,

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Jana Ballinger

Jana Ballinger has more than 15 years of experience as a writer and copy editor for daily newspapers. She lives in a vintage house in Northern California with her husband and an orange cat.

158 comments

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10:10PM PDT on Apr 22, 2013

Thank You!

11:01AM PST on Feb 13, 2013

Thank you.

1:45AM PDT on Oct 21, 2012

Thank you for sharing :)

11:54PM PDT on Aug 29, 2012

I don't do Meatless Mondays. Far too structured for me. Am a spontaneous person and my meatless days are many but it could be on a Tuesday, Thursday, Sunday. I don't plan my meals ahead either. Tend to avoid soy as much of it is GMO but one can get organic soy. Prefer red quinoa to soy.

However I am an omnivore as I get dizzy after several non meat days. My foods are organic, preferring no GMOs or pesticide laden veggies and the meat is non-factory farm.

Certainly in parts of the world meat portions are far too large as one only needs a serving the size of a deck of cards.

7:35AM PDT on May 2, 2012

Half of the Asia is vegetarian.They dont die because they have meals without meat.Infact they're more healthier than the western world who eat meat for all three meals.

3:46PM PDT on May 1, 2012

Anything is better than nothing and it will help the Earth :)

9:31AM PDT on May 1, 2012

thank you :)

6:08PM PDT on Apr 30, 2012

Thank you

6:26AM PDT on Apr 7, 2012

I turned meatless Mondays into about 3-4x a week. Husband won't go meatless totally, he has to admit he feels better not eating a heavy meat meal

7:08PM PDT on Apr 6, 2012

Thanks.

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