They distinguished themselves as racers during the first leg of the Volvo Ocean Race. But Vestas 11th Hour Racing crew says that their real goal is to make a push for sustainability. They do this through careful water use, constant efforts to clean up plastic throughout their travels and through sustainable meals like their Meatless Mondays.

What are Meatless Mondays?

Pretty much what they sound like. People who otherwise eat an omnivorous diet take one day a week off eating meat and choose a vegetarian meal instead.

Martin Keruzore/Volvo Ocean Race
It’s all hard work on board, and these guys and gals get plenty of calories and nutrients, even without meat…Leg 2, Lisbon to Cape Town, day 20, on board Vestas 11th Hour.

Why would someone do this?

According to the official Meatless Monday website, around 1,850 gallons of water are needed to produce a single pound of beef. So, each time you skip the burgers in favor of, say, Spinach and White Bean Enchiladas, you are keeping thousands of gallons from becoming polluted. You also cut down on greenhouse gases and fossil fuel use.

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Are there other benefits?

Study after study shows that cutting down on meat consumption reduces your risk of cancer, heart disease and stroke. A largely plant-based diet is associated with lower rates of diabetes. And, people who eat less meat also tend to be slimmer, which can be a boon in a tight cockpit.

But meat’s delicious!

Billions of people worldwide agree. And, as meat production and consumption increase, so do all of the environmental dangers.

The funny thing is, many people eat meatless meals all the time that never register as “vegetarian.” Eggplant parm? The cheese keeps it from being vegan, but most versions feature no meat whatsoever. Plenty of folks are up for a generous scoop of Mapo Tofu when they visit a Chinese buffet, but don’t think of it the same way they’d think of a western meal that was tofu based. Even lunchtime staples like PB&Js or grilled cheese sandwiches are able to hit the spot with no meat in sight.

Towill trimming the J0 on Vestas during leg 2. Martin Keruzore/Volvo Ocean Race
Towill trimming the J0 on Vestas during leg 2.

And, people who do Meatless Mondays are usually open to eating meat at other meals throughout the week. On Vestas 11th Hour, the crew eats a range of freeze dried meals when they are away from port. What’s typical during a meatless day? “We are enjoying Mediterranean veggie pasta,”  Mark Towill told Marine Motion after completing the first leg, “it is one simple way of lowering our carbon footprint and is part of our commitment to sustainability.”


Vestas 11th Hour at the Start of Leg 2. Ainhoa Sanchez/Volvo Ocean
Vestas 11th Hour at the Start of Leg 2.