The Myth Behind Meatless Monday

Apr 06, 2017

 Many think meatless Monday is a thing of the past, when in reality the campaign has only gained popularity over the past years.  Most of the popularity has been fueled by celebrities and popular blogging websites posting their favorite meatless Monday recipes. One of the reasons people choose to participate in the campaign is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and their carbon footprint.

The meatless Monday campaign actually stems from World War I, where the United States Food Administration urged consumers to reduce usage of key staples to aid the war effort. This effort brought on days such as meatless Monday and wheat less Wednesday. The trend was brought back during World War II to help war efforts on the home front. Both of these campaigns were wildly successful in ensuring the troops were given the nutrients they needed.

After the war, the campaign died down until the early 2000’s. It was originally brought back to promote less meat consumption in the United States. The purpose of the campaign shifted after the 2006 United Nations report, “Livestock’s Long Shadow” was released. This report claimed that animal agriculture made up 18 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, ranking it higher on the list than transportation.  This gave the campaign a new direction as it urged consumers to eat less meat and reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, just 3.4 percent of greenhouse gas emissions are from livestock. Beef only contribute 1.4 percent to that figure. If every American cut out meat for one day a week over the entirety of their life they would only reduce their carbon footprint by .2 percent.

Looking at the big picture, people would make a larger impact by not using electricity, where energy production accounts for 31 percent. Or even not driving a car once a week, since transportation produces 26 percent of the greenhouse gas emissions.

Since the release of “Livestock’s Long Shadow” the UN has developed an initiative called the livestock environmental assessment and performance partnership, or LEAP for short. Through this program they are further researching how the data was collected and analyzed, and how livestock food chains are assessed and monitored.


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