We can and we must do better than “meatless Monday”

Alexandra Stettner

Last December Arnold Schwarzenegger voiced his concern for the environment by encouraging people to make a few days a week “meatless.” The idea of a “meatless Monday” has become increasingly popular with new information surfacing about the effects of the meat industry on the environment.

I have discussed the effects of the meat industry before, and Schwarzenegger’s opinion on cutting back from meat or animal products is certainly one I agree with. Meatless Mondays are a great start to begin educating the public on why dropping meat is beneficial, and there is obviously a huge positive impact that practice would have on the world. However, we cannot stop our lifestyle changes at cutting down meat consumption just once a week.

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There are clear and proven, positive effects meatless Monday would have if everyone stopped consuming meat once a day, including saving almost a billion and half animal lives and cutting back on emissions contributing to climate change, but it is important to remember the goals of meatless Monday are unrealistic. While meatless Mondays have the potential to change many minds about the consumption of meat, it is not going to convince everyone.

Additionally, going meatless one day out of the week provides justification to continue eating meat on a regular, or maybe even an increased basis. This thought process does not encourage any change or improvement. If people are told they are making a change in their life that has a large impact, they will be less likely to change other aspects of their lifestyle to help other issues. When faced with encouragement to make other lifestyle changes for health or environmental reasons, already partaking in meatless Monday will discourage further improvement.

Certainly there is a small change in lifestyle, but in the grand scheme of things, cutting out meat three meals a week is not a dramatic or emotionally challenging change.  To pat people on the back for making such a small change is irresponsible. There should be encouragement to improve a lifestyle as much as one can, rather than establishing an “all you have to do is” kind of mentality.

Meatless Mondays also do not include the impact that dairy products and other animal products have. All the animals who are used for their byproducts are often different than those who are used for their meat, and require all the same nutrition and care that those we consume do. There are also significant issues with cruelty related to animals raised for some kind of future consumption, such as dairy cows.

I would encourage anyone to consider cutting back as much as they can from meat and dairy products. A personal preference or taste for meat or dairy is natural, and I love cookie dough with a burning passion, but this issue is much larger than my simple desire for cookie dough. It is important to push and challenge yourself beyond something you are comfortable with, if nothing else for the sake of prolonging the lifespan of our environment as a whole as well as individual resources that are important to our every day lives.

Collegian Columnist Alexandra Stettner can be reached at letters@collegian.com or on Twitter @alexstetts