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Consuming less meat helps health and the environment. It is well known by now. Starting from this premise, the city of New York has launched an important initiative. From next September all the students of the Big Apple they will eat vegetarian every Monday.
To announce the "Monday without meat" or "Meatless Mondays" was the mayor of the megalopolis, Bill De Blasio.
Meatless Mondays: the program
The "Meatless Mondays" are the evolution of a pilot program, tested last spring in fifteen local schools. In the institutions involved, for all Mondays of lessons, meat dishes have been replaced with vegetarian alternatives. The pilot project demonstrated that changing the menus does not involve additional costs and does not decrease student participation in meals. However, the extension of the program provides for the active involvement of pupils, who will be consulted before choosing the final recipes.
“Decreasing meat consumption will improve the health of New Yorkers and reduce greenhouse gas emissions“, Stressed the First Citizen of New York, during a conference. Thus helping to safeguard the planet for future generations.
De Blasio also specified that parents will still be able to have their children take meat-based lunches to school if they prefer. A more than democratic initiative, therefore, which however raises awareness on the very topical issue of the impact of our food choices on both the health and environmental fronts.
The health benefits
“We are what we eat” asserted the German philosopher in the nineteenth century Ludwig Feuerbach. And he wasn't wrong. Despite his being a philosophical vision, he already highlighted the essentiality of a correct and balanced diet. For supporters of Meatless Mondays, there are many health benefits that less meat consumption has. Science consistently shows that plant-based diets are linked to lower risks of obesity, high blood pressure, heart disease, type 2 diabetes and cancer. Even a single day without meat a week can make a difference, says the American nutritionist Sharon Palmer, author of the book "Plant-Powered for Life", since it allows you to increase all those plant foods, rich in precious nutrients, such as beans, lentils, whole grains, nuts, seeds, vegetables, fruit, and to decrease foods of animal origin, in particular processed red meat. Excessive consumption of these foods is associated with a higher risk of develop serious diseases, which seriously endanger our health.
The benefits for the environment
Follow a meat-based diet it also has important impacts on our ecosystems. In the summer of 2018, a comprehensive review of the studies on the subject, published in Science, took stock of the situation. The report speaks of an exponential growth in meat sales globally. Average per capita consumption has almost doubled in the last fifty years, going from about 23 kg per year in 1961 to 43 kg in 2014. A constantly increasing trend, destined to significantly affect polluting emissions and the loss of biodiversity.
L'intensive farming is responsible for about 15% of the total of all greenhouse gas emissions of anthropogenic origin. The damage to biodiversity is equally high. The sector is responsible for the loss of uncontaminated areas and forests that make way for land to grow feed for animal consumption. There is no shortage of negative effects on water resources: almost a third of water consumption is aimed at the breeding of animals for the food industry. In addition to this aspect, the often bad management of zootechnical waste which end up polluting the aquifers.
In short, the implications are many and of enormous scope. However, each of us can make a difference with simple gestures: one day a week without meat, as in the Meatless Mondays, is in itself a contribution that should not be underestimated.