Saving Gaia with Meat Free Monday

by Mallika Naguran

So if Paul McCartney is advocating no-steak Mondays, the world just has to listen. It could very well be fodder for another Top 20s in the making, reminiscent of the Beatles and the flower power days of wanting to change the world with the sheer power of will.

And why not. If you love the Beatles, you could also try to abstain from devouring meat (and fish) on Mondays to support the No Meat Monday cause. 

It’s just on Mondays, guys. It can’t be all that bad. Especially after the roast we had on Sunday, and the big night out with the boys on Saturday with BBQ pork ribs followed by greasy sausages and chips, all washed down with beer. I think our tummy could do with a break on Mondays.

Tantalizing grilled vege pizza.Apart from health reasons (yes eating greens is good for you), there are real environmental factors to consider.  According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), when incorporating the entire commodity chain, the livestock industry is responsible for 18% of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions – a bigger share than that of transport.

Methane, emitted from belching and farting cows, is a GHG that’s far worse than CO2. FAO figures that livestock and related ruminants (hoofed mammals) cause as much as 37 percent of anthropogenic methane. Another obnoxious gas – anthropogenic nitrous oxide and 65 percent of this gas is emitted from manure – serves to warm the planet.

What concerns me is the amount of forests cleared to make way for that piece of steak to end up on our plate. According to FAO “grazing occupies 26 percent of the Earth's terrestrial surface, while feed crop production requires about a third of all arable land.”

Not convinced? Well check this FAO article for a full illustration of how livestock impacts on the environment, and how you and I as consumers can help to change the dynamics of meat production.

Cleared land, cleared biodiversity.After a year of deliberating if I could survive on a vegetarian diet, I finally made the switch - on Saturday the 6th of June 2009.  The plan is not to eat meat or fish at all for as long as I can stomach it. What motivates me is the impact my diet choice has on GHG, and thanks to this great site, I can calculate my carbon emission savings from my actions.

I am saving 718 pounds of CO2 a day, which translates to 5026 pounds a week.  Better still, if I eat only locally produced food all the time, I’d save another 42,000 pounds of CO2 emissions. Choosing organic food will help me cut GHG down by another 4004 pounds. So this is a massive 51,030 pounds of CO2 saved a week.



Yes, by just becoming vegan for a week.

Beet-root soup makes a perfect starter.

That’s a huge reason for me to stick with my diet. 

By the way, this site, Count Down Your Carbon, helps you track how much greener you’ve become by also driving less, recycling, changing your light bulbs, and more.

You could on Monday night, under candlelight, have a delicious sautéed mushroom dish with crusty bread, after a starter of smooth curried pumpkin soup and before a flaky strawberry tart with thinly sliced mangos

Go ahead and belch. At least, you’ve helped save Gaia for a day.


Food photos courtesy of Food#03, a hip vegan hangout in Singapore.

Get some Linda McCartney's vegetarian recipes here and add yours.