Meatless Monday has been around for quite some time, since WWI, actually. At that time, however, it was more about rationing meat during wartime than health, environmental, or animal-rights issues.
Times change, and whether or not you believe meat is unethical or bad for your health, Americans certainly get plenty of it. Cutting it out one day a week can't hurt and might help.
If you are the type of person who makes dietary considerations with issues other than your taste buds in mind, you might want to check out this weekend's "Eating With a Conscience" luncheon with Paul Shapiro, vice president of Farm Animal Protection for the Humane Society of the United States, sponsored by the South Florida Wildlife Center
Johns Hopkins University reincarnated Meatless Mondays in 2003 to get people to eat a little healthier and to cut down -- ever so slightly -- on the environmental impacts of industrial meat production.
Shapiro and the Humane Society are particularly concerned with the animal-welfare side of Americans gorging on less carne. When one thinks of the Humane Society, one probably thinks of puppies and kittens, but it is concerned with providing decent lives for all animals, even the ones destined to be eaten.
"Most of the work of the Humane Society is dogs, cats, and wildlife, but we're concerned about the treatment of all animals," says Shapiro. "What we're trying to do here is help people understand that each one of us can make a difference for animals every time we sit down to eat. It's not all or nothing. It's hard to break a lifetime of ingrained eating habits. I think the point is just to make some progress. The vast majority of Americans are eating meat every day of their lives, and it doesn't have to be that way."
Shapiro is an inductee of the Animal Rights Hall of Fame (yes, that exists
) for his investigations into and his work to protect farm animals from cruelty. He will speak about the plight of farm animals and educate about what you can do in your own life to help.
After the lecture, there will be a live demonstration of ethical eating in the form of a meatless luncheon served on the center's open-air pavilion. There, attendees will have the chance to speak with Shapiro one-on-one and learn more about the amazing work of the SFWC.
Seating is limited, and registration is required by calling 954-524-4302, ext. 33,