Clothesline in Winter

Clothesline in Winter

Meatless Monday

Reprint of a post from July 2011.  It's practical so we've included it in Make a Difference!

“When your mum comes, we will cut a chicken!”

Anticipating the arrival of his American friend’s family, young Gonja Saulo excitedly drew his forefinger across his throat to underscore the chicken’s fate, and the happy thought of eating meat sometime soon.

Gonja (left) and friend modelling Nathan's stuff
To my son, Nathan Elwood, a chicken dinner was a lot less novel.  But his neighbors in western Uganda almost never ate meat, except for very special occasions.  And a visit from Nathan’s family meant meat.  One meal, to be shared lavishly with us.

After that visit to East Africa two years ago, the Elwood family started eating a lot less meat.  We aren’t vegetarians, and we’re not even particularly nice to animals that invade our garden or prey on our laying hens.  But we figured that we’d never learn how to embrace the world’s 6.6 billion non-Americans if didn’t rethink our national meat binge in the midst of an ever-hungrier world.

It turns out that we Americans eat a lot of meat.  Not including seafood, the average American eats 208 lbs. of the stuff every year.  That's 60 percent more than Europeans, and four times as much as a person in the developing world, like young Gonja.  In fact, American men eat about twice the recommended daily allowance (RDA) of protein.  For our children, it’s worse: we feed them four times the RDA. Health experts tell us that this pattern of consumption leads to exposure to toxins, and increases the risk of heart disease, cancer and obesity.  And as I posted last week, meat consumption results in much more greenhouse gas emissions per pound consumed than other proteins.

Life cycle CO2 emissions from meat consumption are really high
So a few weeks ago, we decided that Mondays in our household would be meatless.  Meatless Monday.  We thought that – for us – it would be more consistent with the gospel, and might even catch on with others.  So imagine our surprise at reading the Environmental Working Group Report last week and learning that Meatless Monday is a well-established national program already!  (Get the report here.) Better late than never, perhaps?

And what good can Meatless Monday do?  Well, EWG reports that if everyone in the U.S. ate no meat or cheese just one day per week, over a year, the effect on carbon emissions would be like taking 7.6 million cars off the road.  Think of it: 7.6 million cars

What we'll have for you on Monday!
So consider joining us with Meatless Monday.  And if you stop by Good Hand Farm, you’re welcome to join us for as much black beans and rice, eggs and garden veggies as you like.  But if you want meat, you’ll have to come back on Tuesday.

Thanks for reading, and may God bless you.

J. Elwood

“For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.” (2 Corinthians 8:9)

P.S.  Some related, interesting facts:

Trash:          About 20% of U.S. edible meat gets thrown out.  For salmon, it’s 44%.
Cheese:        The yummy stuff is the 3rd most carbon-heavy protein, behind lamb and beef.
Fertilizers:     They generate nitrous oxide, which has 300 times the global warming effect of CO2, making a strong case for organic food.
Manure:         Commercial feedlots generate three times more of it than all human waste; and much of it emits methane, which is 25 times more warming than CO2.
Buying locally:    Local veggies have as much as 25% less related CO2 emissions, due to reduced transport requirements.