If you visit Twitter often, you may have stumbled upon a trending topic named #MeatFreeMonday. If not, I’m sure the premise is self-explanatory so I’ll skip that bit and get to exploring where you fit within the why, what and how. Pushing aside the stomach churn we all get when we discover a trend exists and think “…am I missing out?” there are plenty of reasons as to why ‘meat free Monday’ is a worthy endeavour to embark on. No prizes for guessing what comes first on the list.
The meat industry is purported to be the biggest cause of climate change and yet this is a well-circulated fact we’re somehow adept at ignoring in the context of our own actions. Let’s acknowledge together the fact that the several-step process used to put meat into our supermarkets is a leading factor in air pollution reaching record highs every year. So, what are we going to do to solve the problem? Some people don’t have the option of changing their eating habits completely due to circumstances surrounding their health or lifestyle, while others think switching to a plant-based diet is simply too big a commitment. If you fall into any of these categories, meat-free Monday gives you a low-effort way to keep your food indulgences balanced, better for you and better for our planet.
Every Monday without meat relieves the meat industry of your custom and the climate of surplus toxic emissions.
If you’re still in doubt, remember that making permanent dietary changes would be your choice entirely – compare yourself to a jobseeker searching for work in September, when the Christmas vacancies seem appealing due to their temporary nature. You choose how long your tenure lasts.
Vegetarianism/veganism requires a psychological shift that isn’t easy for many of us to make but even if you just ate sustainable fish once a week, you would be decreasing your environmental impact by a considerable amount already. The genius in the idea lies in how simple it can be to make a difference without simply hearing ‘recycle more’ again (although you should still be recycling all sorts of materials!)
Sustainably sourced food is eco-friendly food.
Seasonal eating has largely become a thing of the past as our modern day ‘convenience culture’ has lead us away from a traditional diet. The option to taste other cuisines may be a multicultural move but the reality of supermarket produce is a saturated and sugary concoction miles away from the nutrient-rich food other cultures actually enjoy. Literally speaking, the food has to travel thousands of miles before it reaches the UK and this leaves a heavy carbon emissions trail behind it. If you eat ‘within season’ (for example, avoiding an impulse buy of strawberries in the winter) you are decreasing the demand for further food miles to be racked up and therefore further ‘doing your bit’.
Another way in which Meat Free Monday can inspire us to change our food habits for the better is that we can branch out to think about other environmental impacts. Nowadays we want every piece of food we pick up to resemble a photo-shopped advert so we feel like we’re ‘buying the best’ while supermarket aisles are full of food encased in packaging – a lot of it unnecessary – that only ends up in the black bin bag on our kitchen floors. Wherever we can, we should avoid choosing packaged produce to downsize the demand for it in the first place. If it wasn’t bad enough that we should be sending things to landfill before we get the chopping board out, UK homes throw away 7 million tonnes of food and drink every year due to over-estimating our portion sizes or declining to make left-overs out of our meals.
In a climate that is rapidly decreasing due to human-made global warming, our attitudes towards food need to change. If we want to survive we can’t have everything on a whim and initiatives like Meat Free Monday are helping us to save the planet one bite at a time.