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.