A Month (or More) of Meat Reduction– Forming New Habits That Stick
By Maha Bazzi
How to eat less meat and make your commitment last through the new year.
The start of a new year is the ideal time for many to introduce positive changes into their lives. Whether it’s choosing to focus on activities that better their mental health, prioritizing their physical wellbeing, or a combination of the two, options for resolutions abound.
A rising number of Americans are choosing to reduce their meat consumption and incorporate more plant-based foods in their diets, especially during the month of January. This shift in dietary habits has the potential to positively impact animals, the environment, and human health.
Animals, especially cows, chickens, and pigs, suffer immensely at factory farms. From enduring painful mutilations to living in filthy, cramped, or confined environments, their misery is profound. Factory farming also has a catastrophic impact on the environment, accounting for 14.5% of greenhouse gas emissions globally. What’s more, deforestation for animal farming (due to grazing or intensive animal feed production) harms wildlife and destroys the swaths of land they call home. Finally, evidence has indicated that diets high in animal products may increase the risk of diseases, while those high in plant-based foods have been shown to reduce the risk of the very same illnesses.
Where do you start when trying to reduce your meat consumption?
We at World Animal Protection believe that meat reduction can help lessen the demand for animal products and catalyze a shift from factory farming toward more sustainable, kinder farming practices that reduce pressure on the environment. That is why we designed Meating Halfway, a 21-day journey that guides anyone looking to reduce their meat consumption through simple steps and swaps that make plant-based eating easy and manageable. Signing up for this journey is a great first step toward making plant-based eating a reality in your everyday life.
But how do you make meat reduction sustainable in the long run?
When you sign up for Meating Halfway, you will have access to mouth-watering recipes, meal plans, tips, and exclusive corporate discounts that will ease you into the process. Although it is exciting to set resolutions, it can often be disheartening if they don’t lead to long-term, sustainable change. Research shows that it can take anywhere from 18 to 254 days to form a new habit, and it all depends on the steps you take along the way to make those habits stick. One tactic that may help you extend your commitment to meat reduction could be identifying your reasons for doing so. Be it for the environment, personal wellness, or to help animals, considering the ‘why’ behind our goals and reminding ourselves of that motivational factor can help recenter us when the going gets tough. In addition, having an accountability partner who either joins you on your journey or provides encouragement along the way can make a world of difference in maintaining your new habit. Finally, committing to change isn’t easy, so practicing self-compassion is important. Small, incremental steps can sometimes be better than an all-or-nothing approach, so be kind to yourself if not every day is a plant-based day. We can all make an impact through small, individual changes.