Make Meatless Monday About Inspiration, Not Deprivation

As we go into this week with all eyes on Paris for the big climate change conference, COP-21, we’re thinking about how the food we consume impacts the environment. You’ve read the statistics about how agricultural production uses 30 percent of the world’s energy and produces 22 percent of greenhouse gasses. Yet nearly every nation, when they get enough money, seems to want to consume more meat (see Carnivore’s Dilemma). And, then there’s the related health problems associated with eating too much animal fat.

To address this, back in 2003, a Madison Avenue marketer straight out of Mad Men named Sid Lerner and the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health started Meatless Monday, challenging people to go without meat for one day a week.

While the meat industry likes to point out that the movement is small, and it was small at first—it’s grown to include top chefs (Mario Batali), school systems (Baltimore county), celebrities (Oprah and Paul McCartney), and ordinary citizens in some 36 countries. National Geographic’s cafeteria even offers 5 percent off meatless meals on Mondays.

But for some people, every day is meatless, either by choice or circumstance, so we turn to them for inspiration. Whether you’re starting a post-Thanksgiving diet, focusing on the planet, or just looking for some new ideas for dinner, enjoy our Your Shot gallery of meat-free main courses from around the world.

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