It's no surprise that the food industry is single-handedly one of the largest and fastest spreading businesses, and it doesn't seem like it will be stopping anytime soon. Although the concern of obesity always seems to outweigh (pun unintended) any other matter, there is another looming issue that fails to be brought to light.
Have you ever heard of Meatless Mondays? It's a movement inspired by the growing impact of foods on our health and ecological footprint. The concept is as simple as the name - once a week, try to go a whole day without consuming meat. It sounds fairly simple, but this can make a huge impact.
As the demand for meat increases, companies have begun to resort to feeding their livestock antibiotics in order to make them grow faster. Unfortunately, this is translated into the food we ingest, and can lead to tolerance of antibiotics if consumed in great quantities. The increase of meat production also poses the risk of increased green house gas emissions, methane in particular. With fossil fuels still rampant in Alberta, and a new president down south, we need to do as much as we can to keep those levels down.
It also takes significantly larger amounts of water to sustain livestock as opposed to fruits and vegetables. About 1 850 gallons (7 000 liters) are used to produce a single pound of beef, a skyscraper high number compared to the measly 39 gallons (about 148 liters) that are needed to make a pound of vegetables. To put that into perspective, according to Statistics Canada, the average Canadian will eat 137 pounds of meat a year, using over 900 000 liters of water indirectly. And to think, that there are so many countries that use just as much - if not more water than that.
Following a vegetarian diet could reduce water consumption by 58% per person, but obviously this type of lifestyle is also not ideal for everyone. That's why going meatless for a day out of the week is so practical, anyone can participate without fully committing to a plant-based diet - and it doesn't hurt to save some cash on groceries either!
So the next time you decide to order that roast beef sandwich or walk down the poultry aisle, maybe think twice. Opt a vegetarian substitute, or reduce the amount of meat you buy for a change. Although in that moment you're just one person, you could be doing the Earth a huge favor.
ps! visit www.meatlessmonday.com for more information, fun facts, and to see some knee slapping puns!