Guest Blog by Christin Bummer
Sweeping legislative changes are often initiated at the federal level. Others seem to gain traction when introduced at the state level. And some of the strongest movements have begun in a small town or in someone’s own back yard, gaining momentum neighbor by neighbor. Asking an entire country or even a state to change the way they think about treating animals is a daunting task. Yet it seems the great majority of people in this country are already animal lovers to some degree. More than two thirds of us have made the decision to bring animals into our own homes and treat the like family members. That says a lot about our culture and the extent of our compassion. Yet 98% of Americans consume animals two to three times every day on their plate without even batting an eye. In Pittsburgh we decided to advocate for farmed animals and ask our neighbors to reduce the frequency of animal consumption. The first step was to approach the Mayor’s office for official support. We braced for a difficult battle and armed ourselves with compelling information supporting the benefits of reducing meat consumption.
Many would agree that political progress is closely aligned with animals, cynically thinking mainly of the turtle, of course. Imagine our pleasant surprise when the City of Pittsburgh swiftly adopted a Proclamation in support of Meatless Monday. Without hesitation, Pittsburgh’s Mayor Peduto recognized the benefits of furthering this movement. He has been focused on sustainability efforts and this movement is right in line with other initiatives already underway. Several of Pittsburgh’s universities are now promoting Meatless Monday. Some elementary schools are trying to offer healthier lunch menus to stay in front of the evolving federal regulations which might require this shift in the near future anyway. Restaurants are offering specials to encourage meatless choices and they are seeing increases in business as a result. This all started with a simple phone call to the Mayor’s office to ask for support.
Science has shown repeatedly that reducing animal consumption is beneficial to human health. What researchers have known for decades is finally becoming more visible to the general population: the chronic diseases that are the leading cause of American deaths are linked to the consumption of animals. The great news is that these diseases are largely preventable by a simple dietary shift. I say simple because it is – eat more plants and less animals and animal products. But that doesn’t mean it’s easy. Many people need to take the slow and steady route with this dietary change. Meatless Monday is a perfection option. It’s easy to stomach and it certainly makes a difference.
Meatless Monday is an international movement that is gaining momentum all over the country. Posters are going up in universities and workplaces saying “If the world reduced meat consumption by 15%, by participating in Meatless Monday, it would have the same impact on greenhouse gases as taking 240 Million cars off the road.” Another popular one says, “For every burger skipped you can save enough water to drink for 3 years.” Seeing this in the cafeteria at lunchtime is a great way to help consumers think about their actions at a point when they can really make a difference.
Even though heart disease and diabetes usually dominate the conversation supporting vegetarian and vegan diets, the World Health Organization just issued a report linking processed red meat to cancer. The volume of evidence is so great that it’s hard to ignore it any longer. It’s especially disturbing to think how often disease promoting foods are served to school children in public school cafeterias. For this reason, now is a great time to talk with your local leaders about making sure your community is doing everything possible to help improve the health of its citizens and the environment. As a wonderful side benefit, millions of animals will be protected as a result.
If the arguments for human health and the environment aren’t impactful enough, consider the fact that in order to meet consumer demand, over 10 Billion land animals are slaughtered every year, in the US alone. 10 Billion sentient beings, each of whom have the will and desire and the right to live. That means that in the 2 minutes it took you to read this post, over 38,000 more animals were killed. For that reason alone, now is time take action to halt this madness. Think globally, act locally.
Guest Blog post by Christin Bummer, author of online blog www.BeansNotBambi.com, and co-founder of Meatless Monday Pittsburgh. Follow them on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MeatlessMondayPittsburgh/ to keep up on progress in Pittsburgh or contact them at MeatlessMondayPgh@gmail.com for ideas, inspiration, and questions. Visit www.MeatlessMonday.com to find free resources to introduce Meatless Monday in your community.