Why a Vegetarian Diet Is Good for Your Health and the Health of the Planet

By Rachael Moeller Gorman, "The Joy of Meatless," May/June 2011

One woman's foray into a meatless approach to cooking.

As a journalist, I’ve been following news on the health benefits of meatless eating for years. Recently I started toying with the idea of shifting toward a meatless diet myself. Some people skip meat for spiritual reasons. Many go vegetarian to help the environment (the United Nations determined recently that livestock is one of the top contributors to the world’s most serious environmental problems, for example). But today, there’s something else driving people—including me—to move toward a plant-based diet: health.

Science is showing that cutting back on meat is healthier for just about everyone, and more and more people are doing just that: today, 3 percent of American adults—over 7 million people—never eat meat, fish or poultry, up from less than 1 percent in 1994. The Meatless Monday campaign—a successful voluntary reduction effort in the U.S. during both World War I and World War II that was relaunched in 2003 at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health to help Americans cut down on saturated fat—has become a full-blown movement. Cities like San Francisco have made official Meatless Monday proclamations; public school systems and college dining halls have adopted the philosophy; celebrity chefs like Mario Batali are leading the charge in restaurants. Meatless Monday programs are thriving in countries such as Korea, Brazil, Croatia and Canada. You probably know several people who’ve given up meat—maybe dairy and eggs too—every day of the week. Maybe you’re one of them.

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