What if You Went Meatless for Just One Day? The Shocking Impact of Our Food Choices

No matter what goals we strive for, it’s easy to focus on where we fall short instead of seeing the beauty of where we succeed. When it comes to our diets, even one good choice—for instance, one full day of meatless meals—can have a remarkable impact not only on your own health and well-being, but on the world at large. Indeed, it can literally help save our planet.A man's hands cradling a sapling in the rain

What Would Happen If Everyone Went Meatless for One Day?

If everyone in the United States were to eat only plant-based, meatless meals for a day, we would collectively save 1.5 billion pounds of crops that would otherwise be fed to livestock. That quantity of crops would be sufficient to feed over 2 million people for an entire year! We would also save 33 tons of antibiotics used to keep animals alive in unsanitary, dangerous, and inhumane living quarters.

We would conserve 70 million gallons of gas, and prevent 1.2 millions tons of CO2 emissions, the equivalent to what’s produce by the entire country of France. We would also prevent close to 7 tons ammonia emissions, and of 4.5 million tons of animal excrement.

We would prevent 3 million tons of soil erosion, and save 3 million acres of land. To visualize that, imagine 3 million football fields stretched out one after another. We would also conserve 100 billion gallons of water—that’s enough to supply all the homes in New England for nearly four months.

Now, just imagine what the impact would be if everyone around the world went meatless for a day!

How a Single Day of Meatless Eating Improves Your Health

A single day of meatless eating also offers plentiful benefits for individual health. Strong scientific evidence shows that meat—red and processed meats, specifically—increases your risk of colorectal cancer, as well as your risk oPigs standing in dirt with a dirty snoutf esophageal cancer, lung cancer, pancreatic cancer, prostate cancer and endometrial cancer. Plant-based diets, conversely, can decrease your risk of several kinds of cancer, including cancers of the mouth, pharynx, larynx, esophagus, and stomach.

Eating a plant-based diet can also help to reduce your risk of Type 2 diabetes and improve the nutritional quality of your diet. When you choose plant-based proteins, like beans and peas, you automatically up your intake of important nutrients such as…

  • Folate
  • Fiber
  • Zinc
  • Iron
  • Magnesium

Studies also suggest that eating a plant-based diet can increase longevity.

Less Meat, More Money

Last but not least, eating meatless, plant-based meals can help households and nations save money. Building meals around vegetables, beans, and grains, instead of meat, can substantially lower your grocery bill. Meatless meals can also curb healthcare spending. Chronic conditions like heart disease, stroke, and cancer account for 75% of the nation’s $2 trillion medical bill. Reducing risk factors, like meat consumption, could lead to significantly fewer people needing treatment for those conditions.

Give Plant-Based, Meatless Eating a Try

Even if you’re not ready to cut meat out of your diet completely, you can make a difference by eating a single plant-based meal weekly. If you’ve already adopted a plant-based diet, try letting others know that it’s not all or nothing. Choosing to eat plant-based meals whenever possible will improve the planet’s health, your health, and your wallet’s health, so why not give it a try!

Editor’s Note: As startling as these statistics are, they are well founded in science. Most were sourced from the Alternet (“The Startling Effects of Going Vegetarian for Just One Day,”) and the organization Meatless Monday.