As a decade-long vegetarian, I support just about any initiatives that might reduce Americans' reliance on animal products. And while I come at my choice primarily from an animal welfare position, I also recognise that the impact of livestock, and red meat in particular, is taking a toll on our environment.
Popular Science editor-in-chief Joe Brown writes: "Livestock are responsible for 12 per cent of the greenhouse gases that are helping warm our planet […] And red meats are the worst offenders: cows in particular are woefully inefficient at turning grass into people food - 1 per cent of their feed turns into calories we can consume, which is less than a tenth the turnover rate you get from a chicken - so it takes a lot of water and energy to raise them. The more of them we eat, the more of them farmers need to breed."
(Side note: Because we love passing on tidbits of fascinating information, it's worth sharing that while popular thought blames cow farts for the increase in methane levels damaging our atmosphere, cow burps actually play a major, and likely primary, role in this problem. That, and the ways in which their manure is managed.)
In an effort to encourage a reduction in red-meat intake, the folks over at PopSci started up a campaign dubbed '#NoRedOctober'.
Of course, another PopSci writer, Sophie Bushwick, argues in a post today that there's already a better challenge for meat-eaters to grab on to: Meatless Mondays. By her numbers, which indicate a 35kg-of-beef annual intake by the average meat eater, the difference between taking one month off of eating red meat versus choosing a non-meat option every Monday is more than double: "No matter how many cows or pounds of beef you avoid consuming during #NoRedOctober," she writes, "you'll save 61 per cent more animals or meat by opting for Meatless Mondays instead."
And, sure, we're all for greater impact (and since October is also Vegetarian Awareness Month, might I toss this 100% meat-free Hungry Jack's Whopper as a viable meal option?). But the bottom line here: when it comes to changing habits, you, not statistics, come first. Whether you're drawn to a daily, a weekly, or a monthly process (or a go-for-it one-time challenge), the one that you'll actually stick to is the one that will have the most impact.
The Rebel Whopper is Hungry Jack's first stab at a plant-based burger for the Australian market. Made from a mixture of legumes and natural oils, it's being billed as a cruelty-free alternative to traditional meat. But how does it taste?