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Norway's Military Does "Meatless Mondays" for the Climate

Signs of change are appearing in the United States military as well.
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Girls eat at Norwegian Military Girl's Camp, 2013. Photo by Metziker / Flickr.

The “Meatless Mondays” campaign was originally thought up to support the war effort during World War I, but now a modern army is using it to fight an even bigger battle—the one against climate change.

Last fall, the Norwegian army announced their plan to join the campaign by preparing their soldiers (both at home and overseas) a meat-free breakfast, lunch, and dinner once a week.

It's not just Norway where the military is concerned about climate change.

"It's not about saving money," said navy commander and nutritionist Pal Stenberg, who runs the catering department. "It's about being more concerned for our climate, more ecologically responsible, and also healthier."

According to the United Nations, the livestock industry contributes almost 15 percent to the total greenhouse gas emissions caused by humans. And a study released by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that the global livestock business takes up 30 percent of the earth's ice-free land and 30 percent of fresh water.

Growing vegetables is less resource-intensive. According to MeatlessMonday.com, it takes an average of 8,520 calories of fossil fuel to produce one pound of beef, but only 200 calories of fossil fuel energy to produce the same amount of protein from veggies. With Norway's army saying they hope to cut down their meat consumption by 330,000 pounds of meat a year, you can begin to see how vegetarian days in large organizations like the military can make an impact.

And it's not just Norway where the military is concerned about climate change. Last week former United States army officer Michael Breen wrote in The New York Times that the U.S. Defense Department plans to release an updated Climate Change Adaptation Roadmap by the end of 2014. The roadmap is a guide for handling the effect global warming has on U.S. military missions and operations.

"Military leaders are in the business of recognizing threats, and acting to defeat them," wrote Breen. "Climate change is no different. Americans need to care about climate change, because our nation's security depends on it."


Liz Pleasant wrote this article for YES! Magazine, a national, nonprofit media organization that fuses powerful ideas with practical actions. Liz is a graduate of the University of Washington's program in Anthropology, and an online editorial intern at YES! Follow her on Twitter @lizpleasant.

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