How Veganuary and Meatless Mondays can help make the planet better for 2020 — and beyond
Twenty years ago today, we partied like it was 1999. Actually, it then was 1999. But, as the (1982) Prince song predicted, the year that closed the last millennium had a chaotic, apocalyptic vibe that gave the celebration a harder-than-usual edge. Think Cold War, Y2K, and nuclear armageddon.
Today, the zeitgeist abounds with a similar Doomsday feeling, fueled by a global partisan-political split, with the climate emergency looming over it all.
But all is not lost! There are steps you can take to not only channel positive energy but that can also have a genuine impact on aiding the planet. Think of these steps as New Earth Resolutions (#NewEarthResolutions).
Rather than give you a list of all the things you can do to make 2020 a better year for the planet, instead we will concentrate on just one. (And in a nod to efficiency, also point you to all the great work already done by a number of organizations that have compiled similar lists, including Science Alert, the Guardian, Real Simple, Greatist, the Good Trade, World Wildlife Fund, How Stuff Works, the National Ocean Service, and EcoWatch).
The one suggestion Earth’s Call offers is simple: eat less meat. As Science Alert notes in their list, “if you stop eating meat for a year, your individual carbon footprint can drop by 820 kilograms of CO2, which is on average four times more effective than recycling.”
Consider the following 10 facts and figures before filling up your grocery cart:
The good news for meat-eaters out there is that you don’t even have to give up meat entirely. If you make a conscious effort to simply reduce your meat intake, it will still have a multifold positive effect for the Earth.
As you prepare for the first of January, there are two ways you can jump right into meatlessness — a metaphorical New Year’s Day polar bear plunge into the frigid Atlantic.
First, consider a weekly approach. By adopting a #MeatlessMonday diet, you will effectively and potentially reduce the amount of meat you consume by more than 14% (based on one seventh of the week’s days). That allows you to gradually build a routine around your meatless diet (and also to do so on a day of the week that is typically less social and interactive, Monday).
The other approach requires more discipline and forethought: going meatless (or vegan) for an entire month, cold turkey (or cold tofurkey in this case). Giving up meat and dairy (the latter still requires cows, and again, those methane emissions…) for one full month is a more committed introduction to the meatless lifestyle, and, as proponents note, it takes some getting used to at first. Initially, more snacking could be required to make up for hunger pangs, which do dissipate in a few days. But that is soon replaced by a rhythmic adjustment as your body and mind require less meat — buffeted by a virtuousness that feels healthier and happier.
“Veganuary” is an all-out commitment to going vegan for the year’s first month. And, if one follows up Veganuary with a Meatless March or a Meatless May, one could execute a ratio of 101 days of meatlessness to 51 days of meat consumption in the year’s first five months (152 days).
Also, by making the effort more of a fun conceit with a brandable name — hashtag #Veganuary! — it is built for today’s social-media-minded consumer. So, yes, do take photos of your Veganuary meals.
The realities of food production, an ever-growing global population, and the climate emergency will eventually hit a critical mass, and meat reduction will be a necessity. For now, a voluntary adoption of a meatless diet can have great residual benefits for you but also for all of us.
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