The Daily Evergreen

Meatless Monday’s are a humane and tasty practice

Kenny Torrella | Food Policy Coordinator, Humane Society

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President Clinton, once known for his love of fast-food, has been making headlines for his recent dietary change. He’s swapped the Big Macs, chicken nuggets and fried shrimp for veggie burgers, beans and fresh fruits and vegetables.

After years of battling heart problems, even undergoing quadruple bypass surgery, Clinton took his doctor’s advice to reduce his meat consumption and increase his intake of plant-based foods. He reports that the results have been tremendous: losing 24 pounds, feeling more energetic, and seeing a welcome drop in cholesterol levels.

President Clinton isn’t the only one turning over a new leaf; from Usher to Oprah Winfrey, Ellen DeGeneres to Kristen Bell, people everywhere are eating less meat. Even Mike Tyson, once known for biting off a human ear, is now limiting his ear consumption to those of the corn variety.

The movement toward more plant-based meals is also taking root on college campuses, with more than 200 universities leading the charge with “Meatless Monday” campaigns in their dining halls.

Nationally acclaimed food writers, such as The New York Times’ Mark Bittman and The Washington Post’s Joe Yonan are helping the nation discover meat-free dishes that will leave you impatient for the next meal.

Eating your vegetables? If you don’t know the possibilities that phrase encompasses in 2013, you are missing out.

There has never been a more exciting time to expand our dining horizons. Skipping meat one day a week is not a sacrifice, but an adventure. This is reflected in the choices students are making. According to a study conducted by Technomic, over 20 percent of college students are reducing their meat consumption, and for good reasons.

One of those reasons is concern for the nine billion chickens, pigs and other animals raised for food each year, most of whom suffer in factory farms. For example, mother pigs in the pork industry are typically confined in tiny crates barely larger than their own bodies for virtually their entire lives. Unable to even turn around, these sensitive, intelligent animals – all of whom have their own personalities and preferences – experience tremendous physical and psychological pain.

By choosing meat-free options just one day a week, we can all help prevent an enormous amount of cruelty to animals.

Human health and the health of the planet also benefit. A report issued by Environmental Working Group put it simply:

“Producing all this meat and dairy requires large amounts of pesticides, chemical fertilizer, fuel, feed and water. It also generates greenhouse gases and large amounts of toxic manure and wastewater that pollute groundwater, rivers, streams and, ultimately, the ocean.”

Increasing numbers of family farmers are also voicing their support for Meatless Monday as a means to achieve a more sustainable, community-based agricultural system before it’s too late.

Our current rate of meat consumption is simply unsustainable. By reducing the total number of animals raised for food, we place greater value on humane sustainable agriculture in which animals welfare is a priority.

Thankfully, eating meatless doesn’t mean “less” at all. It means “more,” as in more choices. It means “better,” as in better living – both for us and for animals.  From chain restaurants like Chipotle and Denny’s serving up hearty vegetarian fare, to Indian, Thai, Chinese and Mexican cuisine, which regularly incorporate delicious meat-free items, the options are endless.

Bon appetit!

-The opinions expressed in this guest commentary are not necessarily those of the staff of The Daily Evergreen or those of Student Publications.

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Meatless Monday’s are a humane and tasty practice