Earth Day and Meatless Monday

It’s Earth Day 2013! The day to celebrate this wonderful planet we live on. The day to be aware of how delicate our world really is, and show support for protecting it. The one day of the year to recycle or pick up trash…well, for some people that’s true. But it should be happening year round – not just today!!

earth

Did you know that by reducing the amount of meat you eat, you can actually make a HUGE difference in our world? I’m not even suggesting you go vegetarian – or vegan, not by far. But if you eat one meal without meat… One day without meat… Well, just look at the data I found:

If everyone went vegetarian just for one day, the U.S. would save:

— 100 billion gallons of water, enough to supply all the homes in New England for almost 4 months;

— 1.5 billion pounds of crops otherwise fed to livestock, enough to feed the state of New Mexico for more than a year;

— 70 million gallons of gas — enough to fuel all the cars of Canada and Mexico combined with plenty to spare;

— 3 million acres of land, an area more than twice the size of Delaware;

— 33 tons of antibiotics.

If everyone went vegetarian just for one day, the U.S. would prevent:

— Greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to 1.2 million tons of CO2, as much as produced by all of France;

— 3 million tons of soil erosion and $70 million in resulting economic damages;

— 4.5 million tons of animal excrement;

— Almost 7 tons of ammonia emissions, a major air pollutant.

My favorite statistic is this: According to Environmental Defense, if every American skipped one meal of chicken per week and substituted vegetarian foods instead, the carbon dioxide savings would be the same as taking more than half a million cars off of U.S. roads. See how easy it is to make an impact?

Isn’t that amazing?? And it isn’t that hard. To top it all off, YOU WILL BE SAVING MONEY. For real. Have you noticed the price of meat lately?? If you buy plain, non-organic chicken breast at the store, you are going to pay about $3-4 per pound. That’s probably around $8 for one meal for a family of four. Not counting the sides that go with it. I spent about $5 for a package of ground turkey last week to make burgers for 4 adults and one kid. If I had made vegetarian burgers out of beans, I could’ve done it for less than $2. One can of black beans is about a dollar or less, plus the flour or other ingredients I would have to add to the beans to make the burgers.

We like to have Meatless Mondays at our house. We don’t always go meatless all day, but I do plan for a meatless dinner. Tonight we are eating brown rice with black beans and salsa, with a side salad. A few other easy meatless meals are:

  • spaghetti with no-meat sauce (can add veggies to the sauce instead)
  • veggie chili – lots of beans and no meat! We like to add in corn, peppers, onions…
  • black bean burgers
  • veggie stir fry over rice
  • bean burritos
  • fajitas with peppers, onions, rice
  • SALAD!! for protein, you can put nuts, seeds, or beans on top (like black beans or chickpeas)
  • veggie sub sandwiches
  • veggie pizza
  • pancakes and fruit
  • vegetable soup
  • baked potato with cheese, sour cream, or bean chili on top
  • peanut butter and jelly 🙂
  • spring rolls with a peanut sauce
  • grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup
  • gazpacho
  • or even just an assortment of veggie sides!

When you think about it, there are probably lots of things you eat without meat or that you could slightly alter to remove meat for one meal or even for one day. And none of the ideas I listed are really all that strange or difficult! You can still get plenty of protein from nuts, seeds, nut butters and beans. Can you start a tradition of Meatless Mondays at your house? Comment with your favorite meatless meal below. 🙂

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