For most Americans, the arrival of spring on March 20 is cause enough to celebrate. But for millions of others this date brings another reason to celebrate—the annual Great American Meatout, sponsored by FARM (Farm Animal Rights Movement). This grassroots diet education campaign, which began in 1985 has become the world’s largest annual grassroots diet education outreach.
According to FARM, “Thousands of caring people in all 50 U.S. states and a host of other countries welcome Spring with colorful educational events. These range from simple information tables, exhibits, and cooking demonstrations to elaborate receptions and festivals. Visitors are asked to ‘kick the meat habit’ and explore a wholesome, nonviolent diet of fruits, vegetables and whole grains.”
Modeled on the original “Great American Smokeout,” Meatout urges everyone to try to “kick the meat habit, at least for the day,” and offers encouragement to anyone exporing a more healthful and humane diet. To find out how you can participate in this year’s events taking place all over the map, or to create an event of your own, go to the campaign’s Action Center.
Those who have chosen to give up meat appreciate knowing that their food choices can not only be tasty and healthy, but compassionate and humane as well. Not to mention the enormous benefit of plant-based diet to our rapidly deteriorating environment.Did you know that plant-based diets:
…are arguably the most healthy way to eat. Numerous studies have shown that vegetarians and vegans tend to have lower rates of obesity, heart disease, hypertension, kidney disease, osteoporosis, arthritis, and adult-onset diabetes.
…give their practitioners the edge against cancer. Research has shown that fiber-rich plant-based diets may reduce the risk of cancers of the digestive organs.
…help guard against gender-related cancers such as breast cancer, uterine cancer, and prostate cancer.
…protect against heart disease. Health experts agree that eating foods high fiber and complex carbohydrates can help reduce the risk of heart disease. In addition, plant-based proteins reduce cholesterol levels, while animal protein raises them.
…help avoid some of the most virulent forms of food-borne illnesses caused by e coli, salmonella, and listera. Food-borne illness, a majority related to contaminated meat, sickens 750,000 Americans each year enough to send them to hospitals (this doesn’t count unreported cases) and is believed to kill about 5,000.
Other benefits of plant-based diets are numerous and include:
Weight control: It’s hard to get fat—or stay fat—on a balanced vegetarian diet. Grains, legumes, many types of vegetables, and soyfoods are bulky and filling, yet contain little or no fat.
Economy: It’s hard to match the economic value of bulk grains and legumes supplemented with fresh produce carefully chosen in season. Even a ready-to-eat food such as tofu aver ages about $1.75 a pound—less expensive than quality meats and fish.
Ecology: Many environmentally aware consumers derive satisfaction from “eating low on the food chain” —that is, getting the bulk of their diets from plant-based foods. It’s not only good for the body, reducing the intake of pesticide and animal antibiotic residues, but also for the planet as livestock deplete enormous land and water resources. Consider that:
- Raising livestock contributes to the loss of millions of tons of irreplaceable topsoil each year.
- It takes 25 gallons of water to produce a pound of wheat, as compared to 390 gallons of water to produce a pound of beef.
- Livestock produce massive amounts of excrement, which has been shown to pollute soil, water, and air.
Compassion: Animal agribusiness is one of the cruelest practices imaginable. Millions of sentient creatures are subject to confinement, overcrowding, disfigurement (as in the common practice of debeaking poultry) only to face an equally cruel demise in the slaughterhouse (which, by the way is no picnic for its human workers). A primarily plant-based diet is a humane way to enjoy the fruits of the earth.
There are so many more resources on the web for delicious plant-based recipes—you need only type “vegan recipes,” or if you’re just diving in, “vegetarian recipes” into your Google search. I invite you to start with the Recipes Galore section of VegKitchen, and explore the delicious offerings on numerous other sites on the web and in the plethora of vegetarian and vegan cookbooks available.