MEAT-EATERS OF AMERICA, you are cordially invited to give up eating meat every Monday for the rest of your life, which, by the way, you might extend by making this small sacrifice.

Meatless Monday is a non-profit nationwide initiative promoted in association with Johns Hopkins University’s Bloomberg School of Public Health. Its goal is to help reduce meat consumption 15% before the end of this year.

What’s in it for you besides possibly living longer?  Good question. Here are three good answers:

Good Answer Number One—A United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization report shows that the meat industry now generates nearly 20% of man-made greenhouse gas emissions, which play a big role in global warming. And emissions are steadily accelerating worldwide. A drop in demand for meat every Monday will give the effort to reduce emissions a much-needed boost.

Another good reason for taking meat off the menu on Mondays is the fact that it is a primary source of saturated fat. This stuff is strongly linked to heart disease, stroke and cancer—the big three killer diseases in America. Diabetes and obesity are satfat-friendly, too.

The scariest part of this story is that Americans eat more meat than citizens of any other country in the world. On average, men eat 160% of the government’s recommended daily intake. For women the figure is nearly 140%.

Finally, saying “no” to meat meals one day out of every seven puts you in the camp of the conservationists struggling against a very real threat to our natural resources. A couple of statistics prove the point:

—Meat processors use 2,500 gallons of water to produce just one pound of beef in the U.S.

—More than 260 million acres of forest have already been clear-cut in this country for animal agriculture.

Al Gore did a pretty good job of summing things up in a speech to the European Parliament. He described Meatless Monday as “a responsible and welcome component to a strategy for reducing global warming pollution and simultaneously improving human health.”

The Europeans must really have been listening. Sir Paul McCartney and actress Gwyneth Paltrow have launched Meat Free Monday in the UK.

And cafeterias serving four colleges at Oxford University are now meatless on Monday. Not to be out-done is Ghent, Belgium, the first city in the Western World to adopt meatless Mondays.

Here at home, officials of cities and towns across the country are promoting Meatless Monday. Two major city mayors—Antonio Villaraigosa of Los Angeles and Baltimore’s Sheila Dixon—have given up meat on Monday.  Ditto countless students on a number of campuses including the University of California at Davis and the University of Maryland.

The idea is obviously catching on. Why not? It not only makes sense, it makes you healthier.

Bon appetit.