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Meatless Monday in Philly: Argument for Flexitarians
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Meatless Monday in Philly: Argument for Flexitarians

meatless mondays phillyMonday. I’m sure you looked at the alarm clock this morning, rolled over and put your pillow over your head, begging for 8 more hours of sleep and another day of the weekend.

(Or was that just me?)

Monday also has another new meaning in Philadelphia: Meatless Mondays. But what does this resolution mean for Philadelphians? What’s the point of eating meat most, some or none of the time?

Meatless Mondays: City Council Resolution

Although you won’t get arrested for standing in line at Pat’s and Geno’s today, the City Council unanimously passed a resolution that encourages both Philly residents & institutions to eat meat-free on Mondays. According to a Humane League press release, the resolution will “aim to reduce the city’s environmental footprint and raise awareness about healthy eating.”

Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown said, “The beauty of ‘Meatless Monday’ is that it does not demand an ‘all of nothing’ approach. It offers a challenge that is ‘do-able’, one day a week in a creative, catchy way.”

Philly joins cities like LA, San Francisco, Baltimore, and Syracuse who have recently passed similar measures.

So what does going meat-free one day of the week mean for us?

Meat-Free Mondays: Not a Miracle Diet

As Jonathan Purtle jokes in Philly.com about “tempeh whiz wit’” and vegan cheesesteaks, not all vegetarian food equals healthy. Vegan foods like smoothies/protein shakes, granola or coconut yogurt can pack on the pounds if you’re not conscious of balance and portion sizes. Subbing ‘cheese’ for meat won’t help you either…

However, making vegetables and fruits centers of the meal packs in nutrients and helps you cut out a lot of fat from your diet. Rather than making veggies a side or afterthought, creating a ‘meatless’ meal generally has fewer calories and can even boost your energy.

Cooking without meat may take some more creativity, but with so many seasonal recipes (like here on GPB), it’s easy to find something healthy that will also satisfy your meaty taste buds.

The arguments for going completely meat-free are evident: vegetarians tend to weigh less, have a lower risk of heart disease, cut cancer risks and help out the environment.

Meat-Free, Part Time: Argument for Flexitarians

It’s no secret that I consider myself to eat a ‘mostly vegetarian diet’ without committing to the V word.

If you look in my fridge, you won’t find any meat or fish. The freezer? Clear too. Yet if I go out to a restaurant and see some tasty salmon or shrimp on the menu, I may spring for it. (Yes, I know these aren’t always the greenest options.) Allegedly, I may even have had a friend cut off a slab of short rib at my friend’s wedding and put it on my plate, demanding that I try how ‘delicious’ it is. After a few whiskeys, my judgment weakens and I indulged in dead, red meat. It could have happened, although the witnesses had an equal amount of whiskey to cloud their judgment and alibi.

Truth time: And the “real” reason why I started eating (mostly) meat-free? Factory farming is disgusting. After watching a few docs and reading Skinny Bitch a few years ago, I realized I didn’t want put many of the hormones and mistreated animals in my body.

I hear you. “But you still eat meat on occasion?” Hey, you live once, right? If I really want to taste something that someone is raving about or have an internal crazy urge to have a burger, I’ll do it. But I’m doing what feels best for me right now: eating vegetarian 98% of the time.

Bonus: Although I’m not one to obsess over my body, I’ve heard compliments over my body or questions if I’ve lost weight after I started going mostly-veggie. I don’t keep tabs, but I feel healthier and better about my body than my meat-addicted days.

Philadelphia’s Meat Free Measurement: The verdict?

Many carnivores tend to have a defense of pride that they ‘must’ eat meat because they can every day. People tend to plot a meat-centric meal every dinner to get their “protein” in.

Although I don’t expect some avid meat-eaters to go vegetarian over the measure, it’s a great example to see set in the city, even if it just gets people talking. Even if people start focusing a few meals each week around veggie-centric themes, it will help our overall health since Philadelphia has the highest rate of obesity and diabetes (out of the largest 10 US cities). And that protein argument? Varying a diet with many legumes, beans, veggies, eggs and nuts will ensure that you still get enough protein in your diet. Flexitarians can even reap the veggie-benefits of better health.

The Philadelphia measure isn’t going to cut back on your meat rations or increase prices overnight. But even if it gets people thinking about cutting back on their meat, it’s a win overall.

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Julie Hancher
Julie Hancher is Editor-in-Chief of Green Philly, sharing her expertise of all things sustainable in the city of brotherly love. She enjoys long walks in the park with local beer and greening her travels, cooking & cat, Sir Floofus Drake. View all posts by Julie Hancher

5 thoughts on “Meatless Monday in Philly: Argument for Flexitarians

  1. I totally relate to your argument for flexitarianism! A few years ago I started eating meat-free, but I kept seafood in my diet partly for taste and partly because there’s so much local seafood here. I’ve become lax at times, but I don’t consider it the end of the world. You do only live once!

  2. Great article, thanks for writing it, and kudos to the Philadelphia City Council for encouraging residents to eat more healthy (and more compassionately) at least one day a week!

  3. Glad to hear, Caitlin! I agree – I tend to eat meat free 98% of the time but cheat on occasion. I do feel like sometimes the pressures of those who are totally meat-free or like to stereotype make me feel more guilty than my own conscience. Regardless, c’est la vie!

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