DiscoverMagazine.com’s “Water Works” blog spoke last week with Meatless Monday founder and chairman Sid Lerner about the amazing growth of the Meatless Monday movement, and the chances of China, the world’s most populous country, one day joining the campaign.
The article, “The Ripple Effect of Meatless Monday: Can It Extend to China,” came on the heels of the recent announcement that Chinese meat company Shuanghui International has struck a deal to acquire the world’s largest pork producer, American company Smithfield Products. Meat consumption in China is growing as living standards climb higher, and “Water Works” blogger Tasha Eichenseher noted that China’s 1.35 billion people currently consume about a quarter of all meat produced globally.
Asked for his thoughts on the Smithfield purchase, Lerner said:
“Sounds like a crappy deal for both sides. The manure stays here and the pork goes there along with the high health cost of our meat-heavy diet.”
Highlighting the huge environmental cost of feeding China’s growing appetite for meat, Meatless Monday advisor Dr. Robert Lawrence, director of the Center for a Livable Future at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, told Discover:
“The math is simple: producing meat requires a lot of water…. Meatless Monday has the potential of reducing the drain on increasingly scarce supplies of water by 15 percent.”
Clearly, if a country as massive as China were to adopt Meatless Monday the health and environmental benefits would be huge. The Meatless Monday campaign is making inroads in China. In March, Meatless Monday president Peggy Neu spoke at the inaugural U.S.-China Greener Consumption Forum, where the idea of going Meatless Monday was warmly received by Chinese representatives.