Two weeks ago, the Philadelphia City Council — supported by local animal advocacy nonprofit The Humane League — passed a resolution endorsing Meatless Mondays, the global movement that has motivated tens of thousands of people to give up meat one day a week.

This resolution is an important step toward addressing the health risks associated with meat-heavy diets. Research indicates that those who follow primarily plant-based diets have significantly lower rates of diabetes, hypertension, heart disease and certain cancers. On average, vegetarians live longer than omnivores and are far less likely to be obese or overweight. Aside from supersizing waistlines and clogging arteries, the standard American diet — laden with meat, eggs and dairy — also puts enormous strain on the health care system. An embrace of Meatless Mondays will lessen the burden of chronic disease on our public health infrastructure.

Reducing meat consumption also has important benefits for the environment and animals. The livestock industry is the largest contributor to climate change and is responsible for many other environmental problems. I applaud the city council for taking this important step to improve its citizens’ health and encourage the Penn community to join this important movement.

Adam Shriver Postdoctoral Fellow at the Department of Medical Ethics and Health Policy. His email address is ashriver@mail.med.upenn.edu

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