How did it start?
Meatless Monday started as a World War I campaign to help ration and allocate key staples. Starting as “Meatless Tuesday”, the campaign was done due to food production and distribution disruption brought about by the war. In 2003, it returned as “Meatless Monday” in response to the rising rates of lifestyle diseases associated with heavy meat consumption led by Sid Lerner in association with the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. In the Philippines, Meatless Monday is known as “Luntiang Lunes” as an effort to promote more consumption of vegetables over meat. With over 95 years of history, Meatless Monday has grown and is promoted in schools, communities, and offices in the hopes of minimizing the steady yearly growth of meat consumption worldwide.
“What’s the Beef with Meat?
Heavy consumption of meat has been linked to many lifestyle diseases such as high cholesterol, hypertension, acidity/ gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD, and colon cancer or other forms of cancer. High meat consumption also makes an impact on the liver and kidneys. However, all the above-mentioned diseases are linked to the consumption of commercial meats that are produced with the aid of hormones, antibiotics, processed feeds, and a host of other medicines. In fact, true organic sources of meats have major benefits to the body as compared to meat for livestock that is grown in a conventional manner. To help us understand the difference between the two types of meats, in this example from a cow, let’s look at how they are made and how it affects our bodies.
- Grown how? How the animal is fed and raised is important. Grain-fed, pen-raised animals tend to get sick more due to the living conditions they have. They are given antibiotics for this and growth hormones as well to help them fatten up and grow faster in a shorter period of time, which, in turn, means faster profits for the grower. In contrast, real grass-fed, pasture-raised, and/or organic cows are not cooped-up in pens that facilitate the spreading of disease.
- Fed how? “What is wrong with being fed grains?” you might ask. The problem is cows are meant to be eating grass just as humans are meant to be eating real food. Cows that eat grain and corn are akin to humans who are on junk food and fast food diet. Yes, it’ll sustain you, but it has harmful effects on the body. In the case of the cow, being consistently fed grains and injected with various synthetic medicines means their meat is different from that of an organic or grass-fed cow.
- So what? When you eat meat from a grain-fed, pen-raised cow, you deny your body of the Omega 3s and the conjugated linoleic acids (CLA) that are present in grass-fed or organic beef. Omega 3s are beneficial fats that help regulate cholesterol and improve heart health while CLA is a cancer fighter. Thus, going absolutely meatless may not be the key, but switching to better sources may be more sustainable. However, if one must choose a day to go meatless, there is also a healthy way to go about it.