10 Benefits Of Having One Meat-Free Day A Week

10 Benefits Of Having One Meat-Free Day A Week

With almost 150,000 hashtags on Instagram (and growing), Meat Free Monday is now a global phenomenon, with more people than ever opting for a flexitarian lifestyle for its numerous wellness benefits. So in honour of World Meat Free Week on 11th June, we’ve rounded up the ways ditching animal products for just one day a week could boost your health, help the planet and more…

1. Reduced Risk Of Heart Failure

Statistics published last year found that eating a mostly plant-based diet could reduce the risk of developing heart failure. In a study of over 15,000 people over four years, US found that participants who ate a plant-based diet most of the time, limiting but not completely cutting out meat, were 42% less likely to develop heart disease than those who didn’t.

2. Reduced Risk Of Heart Disease & Stroke

A recent Italian study found that a vegetarian diet and the popular Mediterranean diet were both equally effective at reducing the risk of heart disease and stroke. While the vegetarian diet was more effective at reducing ‘bad’, LDL cholesterol, the Mediterranean diet – which includes some meat – was more effective at reducing the level of triglycerides, high levels of which increase the risk for heart attack and stroke.

3. Reduced Levels Of Cholesterol

One Canadian study found that replacing just one to two servings of animal proteins with plant proteins every day – mainly soy, nuts and pulses such as dried peas and beans, lentils and chickpeas – could lead to a small reduction in the main cholesterol markers by around 5%.

4. Reduced Risk Of Obesity

Research released last month in the Netherlands suggested that following a mainly plant-based diet which still includes some meat could provide protection against obesity. The scientists tracked over 9,000 adults over 26 years and found that people who ate more plant-based foods had a lower BMI and lower fat mass index than those who are more meat. Even replacing 50g of red meat per day with 200g of vegetables was enough to reduce the risk of obesity.

5. Reduced Risk Of Cancer

The World Cancer Research Fund recommends we “choose mostly plant foods, limit red meat and avoid processed meat”. And in 2010, a study carried out by Oxford University’s department of public health found that eating meat no more than three times a week could prevent 9,000 deaths from cancer a year.

6. Reduced Weekly Shop Cost

The latest figures from the Office for National Statistics revealed that the average UK family spends over £17 a week on meat, compared to around £6.20 and £6.80 on fruit and vegetables respectively. 2017 saw a sharp increase in the price of meat in the UK – around 9% – and, following Brexit, the UK Trade Policy Observatory predicts meat prices to increase even further, by around 5.8%.

7. Reduced Environmental Damage

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the livestock sector is “one of the top two or three most significant contributors to the most serious environmental problems, at every scale from local to global”. Livestock and meat production produces more greenhouse gas, requires a lot more water and takes up more fossil fuels than vegetables and grains. Eating less meat could, therefore, reduce your carbon footprint.

8. Reduced World Hunger

Animals convert plant protein and energy into meat protein and energy inefficiently; in fact, it can take up to 1kg of grain to produce 1kg of beef. “This means that anyone who consumes large amounts of meat may be consuming a disproportionate amount of the world’s available nutrients,” the official Meat Free Monday website states. “Currently some 800 million people on the planet now suffer from hunger or malnutrition, yet an amount of cereal which could feed three times this number of people is fed to cattle, pigs and chickens.”

9. Reduced Risk Of Species Extinction

Overfishing and agricultural intensification and expansion are major factors in loss of species and biodiversity. The Meat Free Monday website warns that if present trends for consuming meat daily continue, over the next 100 years or so there will be a global mass extinction of species.

10. Reduced Animal Cruelty & Suffering

Put simply, it’s just not possible to produce the amount of cheap meat much of the world is demanding without factory farming – hence why this cruel process exists. These animals live in cramped, overcrowded cages, sheds and pens, with no room to stretch limbs or wings and no access to daylight or fresh air. Intensively reared animals are often diseased, injured and dying due to the unnatural conditions they are kept in. “Eating less meat is a compassionate step that helps prevent cruelty and suffering,” the Meat Free Monday website states.

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