Thursday, March 14, 2013

From Plate to Planet

Last Monday the Los Angeles public schools joined a global movement. The movement is called Meatless Monday. Each week the school district will skip meat and serve an alternative form of protein for lunch on Mondays. Students can always bring a turkey sandwich from home, but they won't find one for sale at school.

This is one of those teachable moments that occurs from time to time and provides families with opportunities for rich conversation about faith and life and choices. It's a news story that lets us talk about stewardship in the broadest possible terms.

Originally launched by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health ten years ago, and now endorsed by at least 20 other schools of public health, today Meatless Monday is a movement active in 23 countries, There are many positive reasons for giving up meat one day each week. In utterly random order, here are some of the benefits of eating less meat:

  • It's good for your body! Less meat translates into less heart disease, cancer, and diabetes.
  • It costs less. Eating meatless will stretch your food dollar.
  • Fewer animals are killed and raised on factory farms.
  • It's a good way to reduce the calories and fats in your diet.
  • It saves water. Did you know that it takes 600 gallons of water to produce a single hamburger patty?
  • You will avoid drugs. Hormones, antibiotics, and preservatives are all added to your meat.
  • Grain can feed more people around the world than meat. 
  • Eating less meat reduces global warming. It takes a lot of energy to transport meat products and keep them cool.

Most of us have opinions and convictions about "stewardship." For some of us stewardship is all about money, for others it has become an all-encompassing mission. We are to care for all that God has given us: our health, our bodies, our talents, our finances, and even our neighbors and our planet.

So imagine with your child what he or she would do if the school cafeteria went meatless on Mondays. Would he or she pack a sandwich or go with the school lunch? Should we try this out as a family? Why or why not? What's your favorite meal that doesn't contain meat? How much money did we spend on meat last week at the grocery store? What could we do with the money we could save by eating meat two or three fewer times each week? How much does that add up to over a year?

Meatless Mondays have the potential to be profound acts of thanksgiving. They underscore the fast before feast concept I talked about a few weeks back. I gave it a try on Monday and it was incredibly easy! I didn't suffer a bit. My ordinary breakfast of cereal is always meatless. My lunchtime cream of broccoli soup was delicious, and my suppertime pasta was very satisfying. Give it a try, and let me know what you think!

P.S. You can find recipes and learn a lot more about Meatless Mondays at their website.

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