Meatless Mondays: Expert and Consumer opinions
Meatless Mondays is a topic that has gained public notoriety over the last few years, and in recent weeks especially. We wanted to know what consumers thought about the idea, and thankfully, they weren't shy about sharing their feelings. As well, we wanted to see what one of our food system experts, a Registered Dietitian, had to say about the campaign.
We asked consumers, 'How do you feel about Meatless Mondays.' Out of the 274 responses received, nearly 20 percent of the respondents fully support the concept while nearly half said they support a balance of all types of food, including meat. One-third of the respondents indicated meat should be a regular feature in their diet.
Here is a sampling of what the survey respondents had to say, in their own words:
- Too many children do not get enough food. I think we should focus on that instead of Meatless Mondays.
- Encouraging people to go meatless as a pathway to better health is irresponsible use of inconclusive studies. I would rather see “sugarless Saturdays” or “eat local one day a week” to promote less carbon and healthier kids.
- This is not a moral issue for animals, no matter how much we may love them. This is an issue of personal preference and should remain that way. Public programs (school lunch included) do a disservice to the public should they recognize special interests.
- My family already has at least one meatless day each week just because we like beans and cheese!
- Because cholesterol is such a concern, I don’t feel there is anything wrong with meatless Mondays.
- I think everyone should have a well balanced diet and eat from all of the food groups. Meat is an excellent source of protein. Don't deprive your body of the essential nutrients. If you are worried about your weight, get off the couch and get a little exercise!
- I am gluten intolerant already. If I eliminate meat on Mondays, it makes eating healthy and properly more difficult.
- I’ve wanted to go meatless, but don’t feel I know enough about vegetarianism.
- “Meatless Mondays” has nothing to do with a healthy diet. It’s a publicity stunt by those who are against animal agriculture.
- Meat has countless health benefits but, like anything, people need to control their portion sizes.
- I am not a farmer but realize nearly all occupations are greatly impacted by the production of meat. And besides, meat is packed with nutrients that are hard to get from anything else.
- If you don’t want to eat meat, fine. That is your choice. Just don’t force me to so the same because eating meat is MY choice to make.
- Wonder why children keep getting heavier? Let’s get back to the basics of meat, potatoes, fruit, and vegetables.
- If someone chooses to have a meatless day or even a meatless existence it is that person's right. Likewise, if someone chooses to consume meat regularly or sparingly it also is that person's right.
- We're a totally carnivorous family but we like to have a meatless day once or twice a week. It helps us to try new foods and invent creative recipes based on what we have handy. LOVE IT. :)
As mentioned, we also sought out an expert to get some thoughts on healthy eating. Dr. Ruth MacDonald, Registered Dietitian, professor and chair of the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition at Iowa State University, says there is no reason a plant-based diet cannot be a healthy alternative, and, in fact, adding vegetables and fruit to the diet is great for overall health. That said, Dr. MacDonald indicated there are some serious factors to consider when thinking about switching to a plant-based diet.
1. There are some groups of people who might not be able to get all of the nutrients they need. Among them … young children, pregnant or lactating women and the elderly. Click here to hear what she said.
2. Switching to a plant-based diet requires people to consider some important nutritional deficiency issues. Dr. MacDonald said, "Vitamin B12 is only found in animal products and if people are not consuming any animal products… a vegan type of dietary pattern… they would need some sort of a source of vitamin B12, because that's a very critical nutrient for nerve function and very serious consequences of Vitamin B12 deficiency can result if that nutrient is not present in the diet. The other factor you need to worry about with a plant-based diet is making sure there is enough knowledge about the nutritional quality of protein sources in the diet, because most plants are deficient in one or more essential amino acids that our human bodies need and if you don't balance those amino acids properly by using complimentary foods, you run the risk of having a protein deficiency. It's isn't quite as simple as an omnivore diet; meat, eggs, dairy products are very well balanced nutritionally for human needs." To learn more, click here.
3. Some people shift to a plant-based diet because they feel it's the most natural thing to do. Dr. MacDonald says some people tend to lump so-called “processed foods” into a category that is bad for human health. According to Dr. Macdonald, even though a food may be processed, that does not necessarily mean it is not healthy. Hear her explanation here.
What's your take? Are you going to try Meatless Mondays? Do you have more questions you'd like our experts to address? Let us know by submitting a question or comment here.