Aussies asked to skip meat with three veg every Monday
TODAY Australians the length and breadth of the country will be urged to hang up the BBQ tongs, put down their steaks and have a Meat Free Monday.
That's the aim of the new Australian Meat Free Mondays campaign being fronted by nutritionist Dr Rosemary Stanton, TV chef Janella Purcell and environmentalist Jon Dee.
People who have already taken the Meat Free Mondays Australia pledge include Sir Richard Branson, Maggie Beer, sports legend Pat Cash and top TV chef Simon Bryant.
The campaign has been launched by the Do Something! charity and the Fry's Family Foundation to educate Australians about the health and environmental benefits of eating less meat.
While meat has long dominated the Australian dinner plate, nutritional experts say that changing the balance to eating more plant-based foods and less meat provides a much better balance.
According to a recent study by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, less than 1 in 10 Australians aged 12 and over usually eat sufficient serves of vegetables.
Furthermore, a key study published in the Lancet has recommended that we should limit our meat consumption to 90g per day.
The National Nutrition Survey indicates that many Australians are consuming almost double that amount. On average, men eat 200g a day and women 116g.
This needs to change.
The Australian Meat Free Mondays push isn't about asking Australians to become vegetarian or vegan.
It's about raising awareness of the numerous personal health and environmental benefits of reducing Australia's meat consumption.
Nutritionist Dr Rosemary Stanton believes that we can greatly improve our overall well-being by reducing the amount of meat that we eat.
"There are strong health benefits to participating in Meat Free Mondays.
Eating more plant foods is good for us and health authorities around the world recommend against eating high levels of meat."
"Dietary guidelines also recommend much smaller portions of meat than you'd find at a typical Aussie BBQ," she said.
"By going meat free on Mondays, people can help to reduce their risk of chronic preventable conditions such as colorectal cancer and cardiovascular disease."
Do Something! founder and 2010 NSW 'Australian of the Year', Jon Dee, believes the environmental benefits of reduced meat consumption are clear.
"The water needs of livestock are far higher than those of vegetables or grains. People are not aware that producing 1kg of beef can take thousands of litres of water."
"By reducing our meat consumption we can reduce our environmental impact," Dee said.
"According to the Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency, our livestock industries are responsible for around 10 per cent of Australia's total greenhouse emissions."
Sir Richard Branson is one of the well-known people who have joined the Meat Free Mondays Australia campaign.
"I love eating meat, but I love our planet even more, so I will join this campaign and stop eating meat at least one day a week," he said.
Meat Free Mondays, or Meatless Monday as the campaign is sometimes referred to, currently runs in over 20 countries across the globe including America, England, South Africa, Canada, Japan, Brazil, France and Spain.
The concept overseas has received support from a number of high profile individuals such as Oprah Winfrey and Coldplay's Chris Martin.
Meat Free Mondays Australia has been launched by the not-for-profit Do Something! charity and the newly launched Fry's Family Foundation (the Fry's Family runs the Meat Free Mondays campaign in South Africa).
The University of Technology Sydney's Institute for Sustainable Futures is providing research support for the campaign.
So how can Australians get involved?
Both are packed full of great meat free recipes as well as a host of information, tips and inspirational content.