Meat-free Mondays and the rise of ‘Flexitarianism’

The Warwick Students’ Union has joined the campaign for meat-free Mondays. Running alongside their usual menus, the campaign aims to encourage students to eat less meat in order to reduce harmful effects on the environment and to motivate us to maintain a healthy diet.

Meat-free Mondays promotes a more environmentally friendly way of eating by cutting down on the emissions caused by meat production.

A typical pig factory generates the same amount of raw waste as a city of 12,000 people

The Environmental Protection Agency argue that raising animals for human consumption is the leading source of water pollution. According to the Thinktank organisation, Chatham House, 14.5% of global greenhouse emissions are accounted for by the livestock sector. To add to this, PETA Online state that, “a typical pig factory generates the same amount of raw waste as a city of 12,000 people.” These figures show the enormous impact meat consumption has on global warming.

A meat-free diet is being adopted by an increasing number of people every day. The British Nutrition Foundation reported that 2% of the UK population consider themselves vegetarian and a further 1% of the population opt for a vegan lifestyle. Although these figures seem small, they continue to grow more each year.

Whilst these plant-based diets are growing in popularity, within the last decade the term ‘flexitarian’ has also risen. A flexitarian diet is predominantly plant-based but allows for the occasional consumption of meat.

I have recently taken to flexitarianism after being influenced by my friends and environmental documentaries. Having become environmentally conscious and intent on improving my health, I have decided to cut meat from my diet five days a week.

As I still enjoy consuming meat, I decided that this would be a better option for me than to completely cut it out altogether. The SU’s meat-free Mondays allow me chance to try more plant-based options, which is fantastic as I have been struggling to concoct different meal ideas.

They are missing the crucial point of meat-free campaigns, which is to encourage the reduction of meat production and consumption

It’s a good start, but there is much more work to be done. I feel they should cut meat from Mondays completely and have more plant-based options available every day of the week. By limiting the additional plant-based options to Mondays, they are missing the crucial point of meat-free campaigns, which is to encourage the reduction of meat production and consumption.

I spoke Ellie Hudson, a third year student from the University of Sheffield, who has been a flexitarian for the past four months to discuss her reasons for choosing the diet, her approach and its effect on her life.

When asked why she became one she said that she has become more concerned about our environmental impact, stating, “I feel that we are quite selfish as consumers, not really concerned about where our food comes from and the impact it has on the environment.”

Why not give one of the meat-free Monday options a try and see if the flexitarian lifestyle is for you?

In terms of health benefits, she mentioned how she hasn’t “noticed much difference at the moment but I’ve heard from friends that they feel much less bunged up with better digestion”. Asked if she was going to keep up flexitarianism long-term, she replied, “I am definitely going to carry on. I have really noticed how much cheaper my weekly shop is and I have also been more creative with dinners as I have had to find interesting alternatives. I do enjoy eating meat so definitely won’t give up but really think we should eat less as a nation.”

Initiatives like ‘meat-free Mondays’ being introduced by the SU will raise awareness and could potentially lead more people towards this lifestyle and consequently cut down on the harm we are causing on our planet. Why not give one of the meat-free Monday options a try and see if the flexitarian lifestyle is for you?

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