The Sticky Files - Marisca Bakker

Cutting out meat just a little could save a lot

Marisca practices meatless Mondays for the environment, her health and her wallet.

A city in the Netherlands is the first in the world to ban advertisements for meat in public spaces. The idea is to try and reduce consumption of meat and greenhouse gas emissions.

Recent studies have suggested that global food production is responsible for one-third of all planet-heating emissions, with the use of animals for meat accounting for twice the pollution of producing plant-based foods.

Of course, the meat industry is telling the city of Haarlem, just west of Amsterdam, that they are going too far with telling people what is best for them.

It raises some food for thought. Should the government be telling people what they can and can’t eat? We have bans on cigarette ads. Is consuming meat just as dangerous to the planet as a cigarette is to one’s health? I grew up in a generation that knows smoking kills. Will my children grow up in a generation that thinks consuming meat kills the planet?

I’m not sure. But what I do know is that balance is key. I can only do what’s best with what I know.

In our house, we try to eat healthily and eat a balanced diet and not label foods bad and good. And that does include meat. And my children drink enough milk to keep a dairy farm going. However, we do practice meatless Mondays.

It is kind of fun. It forces me to think outside of our regular recipes and search for new things. Plus my children love tofu, so that is an easy substitute.

I couldn’t find statistics for Canada, but if every American stopped eating meat one day a week for a year, the impacts would be great.

It takes 1,700 gallons of water to produce a pound of beef but only 39 gallons are needed to produce a pound of vegetables. Americans could save approximately 100 billion gallons of water each year just by practicing meatless Monday.

Also, by skipping meat once a week, about 1.4 billion animals could be saved annually in America, according to the Humane Society. The Environmental Protection Agency also says using that lesser amount of animals would also lower the emission of greenhouse gases by the equivalent of ten billion charged smartphones.

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The numbers are staggering but it makes me feel like a small fish in a big pond. Sometimes it feels like one family can’t make a difference. However, on a smaller scale, going meatless once a week can save money. Tofu is about a dollar or two less per pound as chicken.

It can also be healthier. Some meats are high in fat, especially saturated fat. Eating a lot of saturated fat can raise cholesterol levels in the blood, and having high cholesterol raises your risk of heart disease.


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