During WWI and WWII, the government ran a campaign called Meatless Mondays to aid the war effort. There was not enough meat to go around. Nowadays, the Meatless Monday movement is resurfacing for a very different reason – too much meat.
The average American eats 270 pounds of meat per year. The devastating health and environmental problems provide plenty of reasons to cut back on meat, even if America isn’t in the middle of a world war.
A single cow produces 80 kg to 110 kg of methane each day. Together, U.S. cattle produce as much heat trapping emissions as 24 million cars.
While many people agree with the goal of fighting excessive meat consumption, not everyone agrees that Meatless Monday is the best tactic. When Patty James – a nutritionist, chef, and author – mentioned the Meatless Monday movement in a blog post a few months ago, she was contacted by a college professor who pointed out that for many families, going meatless one day a week might just mean eating more meat the next day. Instead, the professor argued, the better approach is to advocate eating smaller portions of meat, so that, Meatless Monday or not, less meat is eaten overall.
Either way, education is key.
James, who founded DirectionFive, a nonprofit dedicated to teaching children about nutrition and food facts, has a simple guiding philosophy.
“When kids are part of the process, they’ll be part of the solution,” James said during a telephone conversation.
At DirectionFive, being part of the process means teaching students healthy recipes and the origins of their food, among other things, so that they have the tools to make good decisions.
“It’s all about small sustainable steps,” James said, “We educate and explain to the children how meat production affects our planet.”
“We’ve got six year olds with better knife skills than their parents,” James said with a chuckle.
– Will Carruthers