By Bhagya Wickramasinghe –
Adapting to a meatless diet is more a lifestyle choice than a mere dietary change. The choice of changing the diet to a more plant based variety can occur for several reasons. Sri Lanka is a society with diverse cultures, religions and values. The concept of responsible living and kindness is not new to our country. Therefore, adapting to a meatless diet would come more naturally to Sri Lanka, which is still centered around agriculture. In line with this view the Meatless Monday movement, which is a global movement that seeks to make people give up meat for one day of the week in order to address issue such as animal welfare, reduction of green house gas emissions, and for a healthy living is a step that Sri Lankan community could take.
Benefits of a Plant Based Diet
Changing once choice to a plant based diet can have many benefits, among those being the protection of animals, improving one’s health by moving away from unhealthy eating habits, creating a responsible society, help protect the environment and adapt to the impacts of climate change and the possible and more obvious health benefits of maintaining a plant based diet, at least one day per week.
One of the most direct impacts and benefits of the Meatless Monday movement is that it would lead up to a humane society actively engaged in animal welfare. Moving towards a plant based diet has a significant impact on the environment and many environment and climate change experts are of the view that reducing meat consumption can pave the way towards a significant individual contribution towards adapting and mitigating the adverse effects of climate change.
Going Meatless & Emission Cuts
Ms Vositha Wijenayake, Policy and Advocacy Coordinator of CANSA, commenting on the environmental benefits of a meatless diets and the adverse impacts of the meat industry towards climate change noted that “ Animal farming has a significant impact on climate change and has been recognised as one of the main contributors towards GHG emissions. Initiatives like Meatless Monday have the capacity to create change at the local as well as the global level, and help bring the climate change issues to the public discourse. Animal farming consumes an undue amount of natural resources, contribute to deforestation and harm the air and water quality.”
“The impact of these activities are a part of the vicious cycle that affects the environment and contribute towards the adverse impacts of climate change. Turning away from animal farming, and moving away from meat consumption will help take action to address impacts of climate change,” she added.
Shifting to a Healthy Life Style
In the busy world today people have become less conscious about nutrition and healthy eating habits. Becoming meatless would therefore be a movement towards inculcating healthy eating habits. There are numerous health benefits of moving towards a meatless diet.
Chairman of the non-governmental organization, Sports and Peace, Education, Empowerment and Development Mr. Priyantha Pathirana noted that: “In the modern day society, people have shifted to life styles that are unhealthy for them. This includes cutting down on the physical activity, and shifting ways of food consumption. Consumption of meat based diets impact one’s health, and has proven to increase obesity, cholesterol level, and the risk of heart attacks. Coupled with lack of physical exercise this leads to a population that is lacking in health, and suffering from health issues, even among children. Shifting to a healthy lifestyle which is of healthy habits, and meatless means that you have to make a conscious choice about every meal, including a conscious effort to contribute to the development of one’s self as well as one’s community.”
These benefits highlight the sustainable value of moving towards a plant based diet and making a conscious decision for a better world one day at a time. The movement, “Meatless Mondays” will be a good way to address the needs for a a happier, healthier and a humane society for all: humans as well as animals.