October is a delicious month as the colorful fall harvest of winter squash, pomegranates, and nuts is gathered. Yolo Interfaith Alliance for Climate Justice appropriately chose October to introduce Interfaith Meatless Monday to 10 local faith communities. Eating less meat one day a week is One Simple Thing anyone can do for the health of the planet, for our own health, to save water, to save money, and to help alleviate world hunger. Talk about leverage!

People of faith feel a moral obligation to care for our planet home, and to provide justice for the poorest and most vulnerable people. These issues can feel overwhelming, but eating less meat can help with both. Meatless Monday is an international movement, with the potential for global impact that’s easy for each person to be a part of!

The action is as simple as…one day a week, cut out the meat, yet the benefits are substantial.


Carbon Footprint!
First, the carbon footprint of what we eat is reduced. The UN estimates that animal agriculture contributes nearly 20% of the man-made greenhouse gas emissions that accelerate climate change, including methane, carbon dioxide, and nitrous oxide. Mass production of farm animals is also a main cause of deforestation for grazing and to grow feed.

Fuel Reduction!
Similarly, saving fuel is another immediate benefit to the planet. On average, it takes 18 times more fossil fuels to produce beef – including fertilizer to grow the feed grain, and gasoline for transportation – than to produce plant-based proteins (like lentils – yum!)

“We can choose a lifestyle that damages our air, land and water – or we can choose a new path for our planet and all its inhabitants. Giving up meat is a small but significant step along that path.”  Jim Hill


Water Conservation!
Water conservation is dramatically improved by eating less meat because livestock needs a LOT of water (to drink and to grow their food). An estimated 1,800 to 2, 500 gallons of water go into producing one pound of beef.

Hungry People!
Faith communities are concerned about hungry people. The cry is rising from many voices in many countries, including our own, that having enough to eat is a basic right. Meatless Monday is one way to ease the problem. Lots of resources, like water, fuel, and grain, are used to create meat. Cutting meat out of our diet one day a week frees up those resources for use elsewhere, like growing more food to feed more people.

“Our meat consumption deprives the poor of the world. The massive amounts of grains used to feed our animals produce a comparatively small amount of meat. But those same grains could provide for millions of hungry people who have little to eat.”  Carol Warren, a long-time vegetarian and member of the faith community


Your Budget!
On a more personal level, food can be expensive, especially meat. Getting protein from beans, greens, and grains one day a week, can help stretch the household budget, and introduce the family to delicious new meals. Interfaith Meatless Monday will share a number of recipe websites like this one which includes a children’s section. http://www.meatlessmonday.com/favorite-recipes/

“A friend introduced me to the Moosewood cookbook and starred some of her favorite recipes. I soon discovered that vegetarian cooking was actually more interesting, cheaper, and delicious.”  Sherri Sandberg


Your Health!
Finally, evidence is mounting that too much meat is not good for our own health. Americans are eating on average one half a pound of meat a day, double what they ate in 1960. Food made from plants provides many of the nutrients our bodies need, without a lot of the fats, sugars, and other things which can contribute to poor health. Eating a plant-based diet one day per week can benefit your health.

Beans are a ritual to remind us of our one day a week without meat commitment. They are also a metric, and in the end a bean feed!
Beans are a ritual to remind us of our one day a week without meat commitment. They are also a metric, and in the end a bean feed!

What’s with the BEANS?
Interfaith Meatless Monday is all about BEANS. Yep. At worship, folks will place a bean in the jar for every meatless day that week. More than one meatless day means more beans in the jar. Kids can add beans, too.

What’s the point? We all know changing our habits takes time and practice, so the beans are a visual reminder, a reinforcement of a new habit.

In faith terms, placing the bean in the jar becomes a ritual, a chance to offer a brief blessing for the nourishment we receive or a prayer for all those who plant, harvest, cook, and share our food. We pause to remember that what we choose to eat affects what others have available to eat and stay ever mindful of the hungry. And we accept the gift of beauty and bounty from this our fragile earth. All this we pray as we place a bean in the jar.

Later, the beans become a way to measure the impact of our meatless days in numbers. We can convert them to our collective reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, or the gallons of water saved or even the hungry people fed.

Imagine the full bean jars lined up for a photo op at the 5th Interfaith Climate Conference on  March 5th, 2016 as a powerful testimony of our joint effort across denominations. In June we celebrate with a bean feed for us or for Community Meals. And then the bean jars will return again in the fall as we resume our commitment to Interfaith Meatless Monday.

Chef Debra Chase is an expert at vegan and vegetarian cooking. Besides having dinner, you'll leave eager to cook!
Chef Debra Chase is an expert at vegan and vegetarian cooking. Besides having dinner, you’ll leave eager to cook!

Interfaith Cooking Classes – Don’t Miss Out!
Meanwhile, Meatless Monday is also about FOOD! The kind we all love: healthy, wholesome, locally grown, delicious!  A series of cooking classes all through the year at various faith establishments is open to all the faith communities and the general public. The first two classes feature Chef Debra Chase of Unplugged Kitchen.

Chef Debra presents our first Interfaith Cooking Class on October 17 from 5:00-7:00 p.m. at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Davis (27074 Patwin Road, Davis, CA 95616).



Her “Mediterranean Dinner with Wine Pairings” menu includes:
1st Course: Fresh Vegetable Carpaccio with Crisp Flatbreads,
2nd Course: Fresh Tuscan Kale Salad,
Main Course: Baked Sweet Potatoes & Roasted Spiced Chickpeas and
Dessert: Amaretto Crisp Baked Apples.

The class is free, but a suggested donation of $5 will help with the cost of wine. It is limited to 50 participants, so sign up at here.

Chef Debra will offer “Hearty Vegetarian and Vegan dishes” for families and also for those who cook for the Rotating Winter Shelter, Community Meals, Faith Pot-lucks, Dinner Circles, etc. at Saint James Catholic Church in the Asmundson Room one Saturday in November 14 from 3:00-5:00 p.m.   Return here for more details later.

Other classes for learning delicious ways to cook without meat will be offered monthly at various faith communities throughout the new year. Going meatless is not about sacrificing! It’s simply delectable!

With beautiful visuals and inspiring stories, Nourish traces our relationship to food. Showing Oct. 24 at 7:15.
With beautiful visuals and inspiring stories, Nourish traces our relationship to food. Showing Oct. 24 at 7:15.

Interfaith Vegetarian Potluck & Food Film Night – Sat., Oct. 24, 6:00 p.m.  Film at 7:15 p.m.
For camaraderie and entertainment, the Unitarian Church invites members of faith communities and the public to bring a vegetarian/vegan dish to share for a vegetarian potluck at 6:00 p.m. in the social hall at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Davis (27074 Patwin Road) on Saturday, October 24.

Please be green and bring your own dishware!  

The screening of the TV film Nourish (30 minutes) begins at 7:15 p.m.

With beautiful visuals and inspiring stories, Nourish traces our relationship to food from a global perspective to personal action steps. Nourish illustrates how food connects to such issues as biodiversity, climate change, public health, and social justice.

We will lead a discussion after the film and show additional short films (3-5 minutes) such as “Supermarket Secrets” with Michael Pollan,“Edible Education” with Alice Waters, and “Herbs” with Jamie Oliver and others.  All films are appropriate for all ages. 

Donations for the film license will be appreciated.

The November Potluck and film will be announced shortly here.

Questions about Interfaith Meatless Monday?  Ask at  interfaith@cooldavis.org