TreeHugger founder Graham Hill helped originate this concept and write this post.

The challenge to going vegetarian

To most people, meat tastes great. To ask them to go cold turkey (har, har) is a huge ask. The vegetarian movement has focused on pushing a binary decision. An "either you're with us or you're against us" approach. A result of this is that meat-eaters either immediately reject the concept or promise themselves that they'll go vegetarian later. And that "later" rarely comes.

Meat ain't what it used to be
Over the last 50-odd years, the meat on our plate has gone from being the garnish to being the main feature. In short, it has switched places with the vegetables. Over the same period, the manner in which we "grow" meat has gotten more and more unsustainable (via factory farming, antibiotic use, more food miles, and overall inefficient use of resources). The result is that the volume of meat and the negative ramifications of it reinforce each other and, therefore, meat has become a huge issue for us.

A proposal: A weekday vegetarian diet

Paul McCartney's recent proclamation that we should all practice "Meat-Free Mondays” is a fine idea, and a fun meme, but its impact really pales in comparison. Weekday vegetarianism has five times the impact, and that can be a big boost to your footprint-cutting endeavors. If you're serious about reducing your footprint, once a week won't get the job done.

Instead, follow this one simple rule: Save your meat-eating for the weekend.

It's easy to follow. It's non-binary. It's significant (reduces impact by 70 percent). It's not too restrictive. It'll save you money. It's good for your health. You can start today.

'But, I need meat to be healthy!'

a) Check out these vegetarian athletes and then re-think that.

b) You can still eat some meat on the weekends.

c) There is a ton of data to suggest that most meat is actually not good for your health.

'But, I love the taste of meat!'

a) It takes a bit more work, as our culinary culture has been built around meat, but tasty vegetarian food does exist — here are seven tasty recipes to get you started. Still skeptical? Check out these tasty meat alternatives.

b) You still get to look forward to the weekends.

c) By cutting meat during the week, you do gain in health, helping the environment out and fattening your wallet.

Considering all this, it can really be a no brainer. Here are some MNN links to help get you started:

This story was originally written for Treehugger. Copyright 2009.

Try a weekday vegetarian diet
Get healthier by focusing on vegetable-based dishes Monday through Friday and eating meat only on the weekends.