Meatless Monday: Can 'Where's the Beef? 'go from joke to food green movement?
What you could do in one day …
Childhood memories are unfaithful. Our perception of time is skewed, spatial perspective is swayed by our size and our active imagination reinterprets reality.
Growing up close to the Pacific Ocean was a luxury I took for granted. The untainted frigid waters of the Humboldt Current gave us incredible seafood, year-round dry temperate weather and wild unkempt arid beaches. From Lima, Peru, my family would drive 60 miles south to camp out in a secluded beach off path.
There were no homes, roads, electricity, nor plumbing — just family, friends, camping equipment, a virgin landscape and critters lurking around.
Time plays another ugly trick on our memories. It moves forward and progress transpires while our recollection remains static. A couple (or so) decades later, the effect of the human ecological footprint was remarkable. Rapid urban development and over consumption had made a tragic conquest.
Roads, housing, and modern luxuries also brought unwanted guests: Pollution in a variety of forms. I had to watch from afar in nostalgic contemplation.
Dare I suggest we all have special places where the human footprint has erased the possibility of connecting with our most cherished childhood memories? Maybe yours is a park, a meadow or open field, a forest, a clearing by a brook or a lake. For some, the change happened before our eyes and seemed gradual, unnoticeable, or even necessary in the name of progress and growth.
For others like me, the change appeared drastic.
I am certainly not against the new, the exciting, the modern and the “next”. We all have our own definitions of progress and development. But in the heart of the conceptual age, isn’t it time we abandon the quest for extreme abundance in favor of significance?
As we move forward, whatever that means for each of us, it is critical that preservation takes a starring role in our considerations.
Although the start of my vegetarian/vegan journey had little to do with conservation and environmental concerns — the world was just beginning to be fixated on green house gases, the ozone layer, and acid rain — it is inconceivable not to consider green benefits.
But I am just one. Are my efforts futile? What would happen if we all became vegan?
An environmentalist’s wet dream, worldwide veganism is as attainable as the loftiest of Ms. America’s blonde-esque aspirations of achieving world peace and ending world hunger.
After all, America is the land of fried chicken, crawfish, Wendy’s hilarious “Where's the Beef?” commercials circa 1984 and the “Beef. It’s What’s for Dinner” slogan that popularized Copland’s Rodeo. The western world is accustomed to a meat-centric diet so it is more reasonable to consider something more moderate.
Would you be able to give up meat one day a week?
Meatless Monday was created in 2003 by Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health’s Center for a Livable Future, primarily to encourage cutting back of saturated fats. In 2009, the Meatless Monday program was expanded to advocate overall health and environmental benefits.
Present mainly in schools, including the University of Houston and the University of Texas at Arlington, it is about time Meatless Monday infiltrates our vernacular. It is time to popularize a new hashtag Twitter day of the week.
Maybe that is still too much for some. Can you pledge one day?
If everyone in the US practiced vegetarianism for just one day, we can make a huge contribution to preservation and environmental causes including:
• Save 100 billion gallons of water, enough for all the homes New England for 4 months
• Save 3 million acres of land or more than twice the size of Delaware
• Prevent 3 million tons of social erosion and $70 million in resulting economic damages
• Save 70 million gallons of gas or enough to fuel all cars in Mexico and Canada
• Reduce greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to 1.2 million tones of CO2, or as much as all of France.
When it comes to preservation, a collaborative effort goes a long way.
For me, it is too late to reclaim my beach. Yes, I am aware that my childhood memories are quite influenced, inaccurate and unfaithful. But for others whose life is just beginning, we owe them the courtesy of making an effort.