When something good is problematic…
A woman who I know to be smart and compassionate laughed at the idea of participating in Meatless Monday. It made me depressed. It was a reminder that many people do not understand that consuming animal products negatively affects the environment and it is within their power to make a difference. Does it require some effort? Yes. Will it be harder than getting a high school diploma or taking care of a child? No.
Unfortunately, I don’t think it matters if she participates in Meatless Mondays.
Did you know that your body is home to many microscopic organisms? They are separate from you, but “you” wouldn’t be “you” without them. This is the human microbiome. Visualize little organisms with tiny hats and briefcases on their way to work on the surface of your skin. Once they reach their place of employment, they will positively and negatively affect how your body functions. Now zoom out! Keep going. Pretend you are watching a show on National Geographic. Once you are in space with a beautiful view of the earth stop!
The earth is home to 7 billion people. Think of humans as the little organisms living on the surface of the earth. We wear our hats and carry our briefcases to work. Some of us negatively impact the health of the earth and some of us positively impact the health of the earth. Most of us do both. When the earth is sick, it affects the tiny humans (droughts, flooding, rising temperatures), but together the tiny humans can make the earth healthier.
When you choose to eat less meat you are responsible for positively impacting the earth.
Abstaining from eating meat on Mondays will not move the needle. Impactful action requires effort. As someone living in a country and a time obsessed with “hacking” everything, I am concerned that people who participate in Meatless Mondays will think that they are part of the solution to climate change instead of being part of the problem. If you have started to take this viewpoint personally then zoom out! This is not about you. It is about all of us currently living on the earth and those of us who haven’t even been born yet.
Meet Harry. When Harry participates in Meatless Mondays he is abstaining from eating meat three times that day. If he typically eats meat three times a day, then he is still eating meat at 86% of his meals. This is not helping the environment.
Meet Selena. When Selena participates in Meatless Mondays she is abstaining from eating meat two times that day. If she typically eats meat two times a day, then she is eating meat at 57% of her meals. This is better than Harry’s habits (he is not a bad person, but a person with harmful habits), but by adding new recipes to her rotation she could easily become a part of the solution. What if she only ate meat once a day?
She would have a strong positive impact on the environment because this habit would cause a chain reaction. The meat producers would see a drop in sales then produce less meat. The odds that Meatless Mondays will help decrease consumer demand for meat are unlikely. Improvement of regular habits will help the environment. If you eat meat twice a day, then eating it once a day will help. If you eat meat three times a day, then eating it twice a day will help.