Meat consumption in Iran has soared by 60 percent since 2005, according to the Omega Research Team (ORT), so the group is trying to convince locals to embrace Meatless Mondays. But for many, meat isn’t a choice.
A concept originally introduced by the U.S. Food Administration during the first World War was revived as “Meatless Mondays” in 2003 and has since become a global phenomenon.
Originally designed to curb illnesses associated with excess meat consumption, the movement has since been embraced by environmentalists as well in an effort to mitigate the greenhouse gas emissions, water pollution, and costs of global meat production.
In Iran, meat consumption in general has been on the rise since 2005, which is why Tehran-based ORT has initiated a campaign to convince Iranians to curb their meat habit by eating vegetarian meals on Mondays.
Working with nutritionists, scientists along with government and private sector agencies, ORT hopes to reach the public through a website and dedicated social media campaign.
“Meatless Monday is an opportunity for Iranians to join a global movement in a friendly and scientific atmosphere,” said President Shayan Mohammad Moradi, who added that the benefits for individuals, societies and countries which take part in this movement are promising.
“The Middle East is facing sharp increases in meat consumption that have the potential to significantly harm our health and the environment. We urge Iranians and our other Middle East neighbors to join the Meatless Monday community for a healthier world.”
However, for some Iranians, cutting back on meat is not a choice. Since the U.S. imposed rigorous sanctions because of the Islamic country’s insistence that it should be able to develop nuclear power, meat has become too expensive for many people.
Chicken is considered by the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) to be a more environmentally and health-friendly alternative to beef and pork, but even that is too expensive for some Iranians, who are turning to Aubergine instead.
Also, though this is a worthwhile campaign that comes complete with useful recipes, and answers to frequently asked nutrition questions, UNEP says that Meatless Mondays won’t save the planet.
Instead, they are asking people to cut their meat consumption by half.