Have you heard the news about bacon? The World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer has released a study providing evidence that processed meat such as bacon is carcinogenic to humans and fresh red meat is probably carcinogenic. Add this to the list of environmental, animal welfare and health-related reasons we should reduce our consumption of meat and other animal products and it’s clear – it’s time to cut back!

Fortunately, there’s a movement underway and, not surprisingly, Berkeley is at the forefront of this turn towards health and sustainability. On Feb. 24, 2015, the Berkeley City Council adopted a resolution declaring Mondays to be “Meatless Mondays” in the City of Berkeley.

As a Berkeley resident and long-time vegetarian turned vegan, it is a joy to see people choosing to try something new in their diets with undeniable benefits for all.

The list of health benefits of reducing our consumption of animal products reads like the label of a miracle drug: reduce your risk of heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes and other health problems, as well as lose weight and live longer. It sounds too good to be true, right? Research now provides evidence that all of these health improvements can be made by eating a plant-based diet. Add saving money to the equation, and it’s hard to argue against eating more plant and less animal.

Personally, I got inspired to go meatless long ago as an environmental and animal welfare activist. More recently, I became a mother and for the first time, experienced the deep bond between mother and child. This connection helped open my eyes to the suffering involved in the dairy industry, where mother and child are separated often within hours after birth. I was no longer able to justify how I needed that milk (cheese, ice cream, etc.) more than a baby cow needed it.

We can all agree that California has some serious environmental problems, perhaps most notably the current drought. Consider that in California, a quarter of all irrigated water is used to grow animal feed crops. Not only do we use less water when we eat more plants but we also reduce our carbon footprint by reducing our greenhouse gas emissions and fuel dependence.

I feel so strongly about the benefits of our population choosing meatless just one day a week that I have initiated a “Meatless Mondays in November” campaign.

Now I invite the Mayor, City Council, city employees and residents to join me in pledging to go Meatless on Mondays for the month of November. It’s an easy and effective step – five Mondays with no meat (and all the better, no dairy). Visit the campaign Facebook page for details, where you will also find the link to the pledge.

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Mara Guccione is a Berkeley resident and volunteer District Leader for The Humane Society of the United States.
Mara Guccione is a Berkeley resident and volunteer District Leader for The Humane Society of the United States.