Essays

Meatless Mondays

Clare McCullough

If you’re a vegetarian or a vegan in America, it’s a little more challenging to find something tasty and filling to eat. Which of course makes sense; animal products are a huge part of our lives in American culture. Americans eat on average 5.3 pounds of meat a day. (Black)

America loves our meat, but have you ever wondered where that meat came from? I have and in learning about the issue I came face to face with a lot of realities that were hard for me to accept.  One of those realities was how much harm our meat-eating habits were doing world-wide. And, so I propose a grass-roots campaign to spread awareness of the environmental impact of animal agriculture and help curb the rising obesity epidemic. By using targeted reduction of even just one day, our rational consumption changes the narrative for both the health of our bodies and the environment. We need to take into account the full costs of our individual actions on a massive scale.

Animal Agriculture is a huge contributor to climate change, According to WorldWatch, “livestock and their byproducts account for at least 32,000 million tons of CO2 per year, or 51% of all worldwide greenhouse gas emission.” Which is more than all of the transportation sector combined. Yep, that’s the cars, trucks, boats, and planes all put together. We’ve been focusing on wrong areas, instead of transportation, we need to turn our attention to our diets.

Animal agriculture is one of the largest emitters of greenhouse gasses. There are a lot of people on the earth, and to support all of them and still preserve our environment, we need to cut back on energy exhaustive practices- think about how much energy goes into making a burger- grow the cow’s food, feed and hydrate the cow, deal with its waste, give it antibiotics, ship the fat cows, grind the meat, wash, cut, clean, package, ship, and cook. The long processes that go into making that hamburger emit a lot of CO2 and all the while these cows on the farms are emitting upwards to a 150 billion gallons of methane globally per day. (IBT) And if we were to reduce methane, we would see results of a more relieved climate almost immediately (UN)

Going meatless on Mondays would also help decrease obesity. More than 30% of adults in Wisconsin are obese and the effects of obesity are very serious; it is related to heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and certain types of cancer.(CDC) These diseases are preventable, and by doing whatever we can to help, and utilizing Marquette’s deep commitment to the well-being of the whole human family, we can make a difference by cutting out meat for one day a week. Though many people have the conception that vegetarianism is unhealthy, that is clearly untrue.

According to AND, vegetarians are at lower risk for developing: Heart disease, Colorectal, ovarian, and breast cancers, Diabetes, Obesity, and Hypertension (high blood pressure).  Eating a healthy vegetarian diet is typically higher in fiber and lower in fat content. By promoting a vegetarian lifestyle we promote a healthy and sustainable lifestyle. But obesity isn’t the only thing that Meatless Mondays would help curb.

the environmental impact of animal agriculture. We need to take care of this earth, since it’s the only one that we have. It is certain that its destruction, would mean our destruction.

And, though I know that Climate change is a bit of a political point, and there are people who deny it, I would still like to bring up facts that often come up in the scientific community about it. Global warming is caused by heat getting trapped in the atmosphere and in effect, disrupting weather patterns and increasing the overall temperature of the earth. The safe level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere at its maximum, is 350 parts per million. In 2014, we passed 400. As a result, the sea level is rising due to the ice sheets of Greenland and the Antarctic melting. Oceans are acidifying. “Climate change will destroy, damage, or permanently change every single ecosystem” (Sierra Club)

All of the effects that scientists had warned us about are starting to become a reality, and according to NASA, the result of climate change on the Midwest will entail, “Extreme heat, heavy downpours, and flooding will affect infrastructure, health, agriculture, forestry, transportation, air and water quality, and more. Climate change will also exacerbate a range of risks to the Great Lakes.” One of the ways we can combat Climate change is to start Meatless Mondays since climate change will affect all of us and it’s a small price to pay to prevent the destruction of the planet.

But even if you don’t believe in Climate change, there are still reasons to cut back on meat. According to FAO, livestock or livestock feed occupies 1/3 of the earth’s ice-free land. And, it has so far, contributed to 91% of the deforestation of the Amazon Rainforest, one of the most ecologically diverse places on the planet. This is just one of the many immediate impacts of animal agriculture.

Animal agriculture is the leading cause of species extinction, because deforestation and converting the land to grow feed and for animal grazing. Natural predators in the regions where the land is converted are often killed since they are a perceived threat to livestock profits. According to the center for biological diversity, 30-50 percent of all species could be heading toward extinction by 2050. This loss of biodiversity has been unprecedented since the last mass extinction: The end of the dinosaurs.

The pervasive use of chemical fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides that are used for growing feed contribute to water pollution and contribute to ocean dead zones. The overexploitation of commercial fishing which has depleted 75% of the world’s fisheries will lead us to, according to national geographic, fishless oceans by 2048. I will be 51 years old, and at that time, if all goes well, my kids will be going to college, just like I am right now. But they might not live in a world like I do. Their world, and mine will be vastly different. It is my wish that, when I am old, I will not have to tell them stories of how the world used to be, but show them how magnificent the natural world is, how I spent my summers camping, fishing, and hiking in the seemingly endless parks with my family. And according to Wannaveg, if just one person participated in meatless Mondays for a year, that person would reduce their meat consumption from 250 pounds to 215 pounds, which is a big difference when you factor in the reduction of over 400 pounds of manure, and the 84,000 gallons of water, 245 pounds of grain, 7,700 sq feet of rainforest, and 15.5 gallons of gas saved, and of course, 1 animal’s life.

It is our responsibility, As citizens of this world to ensure that the spill over of our climate destruction doesn’t only affect other countries but also doesn’t follow us into the future.

Black, Jane. “Oh, Meatless Mondays; the Movement has Legs, but Will it be Able to Get Past the Industry’s Talking Points?” The Washington Post, May 19, 2010, ProQuest Central, https://0-search.proquest.com.libus.csd.mu.edu/docview/304154117?accountid=100.

http://www.ibtimes.com/cow-farts-have-larger-greenhouse-gas-impact-previously-thought-methane-pushes-climate-change-1487502