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June 13, 2012

HSI Promotes “Meatless Monday” at United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development

Humane Society International

As evidence mounts about the need for greater environmental protections, it is clear that one of the most significant causes of global environmental harm is the production of more than 67 billion land animals for food each year. As preparatory meetings for the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, or Rio+20, begin this week in Rio de Janeiro, Humane Society International is attending to promote “Meatless Monday.”

A popular international movement that began in 2003 in the United States at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, “Meatless Monday” participants cut out meat one day a week for human health and the health of the planet. Given Rio+20's focus on a green economy in the context of sustainable development, as well as the agenda topic on sustainable production and consumption patterns, HSI believes that reducing meat consumption should be part of the conversation.

“Whether the focus of Rio+20's participating organizations is farm animal welfare, climate change, forests, public health, environmental pollution, or sustainable agriculture, Meatless Monday supports their mission,” said Guilherme Carvalho, HSI’s campaign manager in Brazil. “It is a movement that everyone can support.”

Backed by advocacy campaigns in more than 20 countries, including Brazil, Meatless Monday also reduces animal suffering. It is supported by scientific authorities, including the chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Rajendra Pachauri, and a number of celebrities, including former Beatle Paul McCartney, North American TV show host Oprah Winfrey, and the musician and former Brazilian Minister of the Environment, Gilberto Gil.


  • Animal agriculture is responsible for nearly one-fifth of human-induced greenhouse gas emissions and is recognized by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations as one of the top two or three most significant contributors to the most serious environmental problems, at every scale from local to global.
  • Pasture expansion for farm animals is a key driver of deforestation, especially in Latin America.
  • Worldwide, more land is used to raise and feed farm animals than for any other purpose. More than 97 percent of soymeal and 60 percent of the barley and corn produced globally are fed to farm animals.
  • Intensive animal agriculture not only harms the environment, but also causes animal suffering.
  • Meat-free food options help to improve overall health. Many chronic diseases can be prevented, treated and, in some cases, even reversed with a plant-based diet.
  • Each one of us can lessen our environmental footprint by reducing our consumption of meat, egg, and milk products.

Learn more

Read about eating for the environment

Explore the HSI Guide to Meat-Free Meals for delicious vegetarian recipes


Humane Society International and its partner organizations together constitute one of the world's largest animal protection organizations—backed by 11 million people. For nearly 20 years, HSI has been fighting for the protection of all animals through advocacy, education, and hands-on programs. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty worldwide—On the Web at hsi.org.