Los Angeles is the largest U.S. city, to date, to officially nudge residents toward this simple solution that will improve public health and boost the environment.
Earlier this year, the USDA briefly advocated Meatless Mondays for all U.S. families... until the National Cattlemen's Beef Association and their favorite politicians screamed "Treason!" and huffed "Never in my life would I have expected USDA to be opposed to farmers and ranchers." The Los Angeles City Council ignored profit-greedy pleas of the powerful meat industry.
If Angelenos join other cities, school districts, colleges, and universities across the nation by putting this cost-free idea into action, the improvements could be amazing. The health benefits alone are huge:
Limit Cancer Risk - Hundreds of studies suggest that diets high in fruits and vegetables may reduce cancer risk. Both red and processed meat consumption are associated with colon cancer.
Reduce Heart Disease - Recent data from a Harvard University study found that replacing saturated fat-rich foods (meat, full fat dairy) with foods that are rich in polyunsaturated fat (olive oil, nuts, seeds) reduces the risk of heart disease by 19%.
Fight Diabetes - Research suggests that higher consumption of red and processed meat increase the risk of type 2 diabetes.
The effects on the environment of reducing meat consumption would be dramatic. Few Americans realize that the U.S. beef industry is a top contributor to global warming:
Your Carbon Footprint: - The United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization estimates the meat industry generates nearly one-fifth of the man-made greenhouse gas emissions that are accelerating climate change worldwide . . . far more than transportation. And annual worldwide demand for meat continues to grow. Reining in meat consumption once a week can help slow this trend.
Exorbitant Water Usage - The water needs of livestock are tremendous, far above those of vegetables or grains. An estimated 1,800 to 2,500 gallons of water go into producing a single pound of beef.
High Fossil Fuel Dependence - On average, about 40 calories of fossil fuel energy go into every calorie of feed lot beef in the U.S. Compare this to the 2.2 calories of fossil fuel energy needed to produce one calorie of plant-based protein. Moderating meat consumption is a great way to cut fossil fuel demand.
Factor in environment impacts exacted by the pork, lamb, and poultry industries, and the positive results of eliminating meat one day a week become obvious. (Above-listed statements fact-checked at MeatlessMonday.com.)
But the Los Angeles City Council's innovative 15-point resolution gave additional, compassionate reasons for Meatless Monday, including:
- WHEREAS, more than half of the adult population is overweight or obese in Los Angeles
County. Statistics show that low-income areas in Los Angeles are at higher risk for preventable diseases linked to obesity, including, heart attacks, strokes, diabetes and even cancer.
- WHEREAS, poorer communities around Los Angeles have less access to healthy foods.
- WHEREAS, health disparities exist in various groups, with African-Americans and Hispanics
at a higher risk of diseases linked to poor nutrition habits.
- WHEREAS, in 2008, Californians overwhelmingly supported Proposition 2, the Prevention of Farm Animal Cruelty Act, which banned some of the cruelest forms of farmed animal confinement.
Need some delicious suggestions for Meatless Monday meals in your own home? Find hundreds of imaginative, satisfying dishes HERE at MeatlessMondays.com.
Dining out? Try one of celebrity chef Mario Batali's 14 restaurants, where he and partner, famed Italian-cookbook writer Lidia Bastianich, pledge to serve at least two extraordinary vegetarian entrees each Monday.
Meanwhile, I'm back to once again humming along with my ipod about my hometown, "I love L.A..... "