Written by: Paul McCartney

It is now widely known that animal agriculture creates harmful greenhouse gasses and depletes precious resources, including land, water and energy, to increasingly unsustainable levels.

And that industrialised fishing destroys marine ecosystems as miles of nets sweep up anything in their path.

Both are major contributors towards climate change and these industries are having alarming environmental consequences.

I was staggered to learn that almost a third of all land on Earth is used for livestock production and that it can take 30 bathtubs of water to produce just one beef burger.

An area of rainforest the size of a hundred football pitches is cut down every hour to create room for grazing cattle!

My daughters Mary and Stella and I launched the Meat Free Monday campaign in 2009 and the support we’ve had since then has been phenomenal.

Many of us feel helpless in the face of environmental challenges, and it can be hard to sort through all the advice and find what we can do to make a more sustainable world.

Meat Free Monday is a simple idea that seems to have caught on with many people.

It encourages people to eat plant based at least one day a week with a hope that if enough people do it and the idea spreads, it will help protect the planet and our future.

It can be a first step for those who want to make a difference.

To put it another way, a lot of people might go the gym on a Monday after a big weekend. With Meat Free Monday, it’s a bit like going to the gym but with the added advantage of helping the planet.

I support a lot of causes but this campaign in particular is personal for me and my family as it’s how we live.

But it wasn’t always like this for me. I was brought up on a traditional Western diet – it was bacon for breakfast and meat for lunch (sausages and mash or something like that) then meat for dinner, a few veg on the side maybe but mainly meat.

We tend to think that what we have always done is what we always will do in the future. I say, “How boring is that?”

Can’t you look at your life and go, “You know what? I think I might fancy a change.” I try to turn people onto that excitement. Say, for example, you’ve never done exercise and then suddenly you think, “I am going to get a bike. I am going to go riding!” The minute you do this, you love it and feel good about yourself. Well it’s the same thing with your food choices: You make that choice and realise, “Wow, this is making a difference for me, the world, for people.”

I persuade people that it is a really exciting point in your life to say, “I’ve done X for all of my life up until now, and now I am going to do Y. I am going to make a change, and let’s see how it goes.”

Meat Free Monday is a growing movement. It’s been taken up in schools, universities, businesses, governments, restaurants all around the world – they’re enjoying it and it’s having an impact!

The planet is under huge pressure and the choices we make have never been more important.

Meat Free Monday is compassionate to animals, it’s very good for your health and moreover in this context it’s damn good for the planet.

The truth is there are a lot of delicious plant-based options available so it’s not a difficult thing to do. Why not join us and give it a try?

For recipes, please visit The Daily Mirror.

This story originally appeared in The Daily Mirror and is reproduced here as part of Covering Climate Now, an international journalistic collaboration to strengthen coverage of the climate story.

Header Image Credit: Mary McCartney/The Daily Mirror