“Don’t have a cow,” says an ad for a global movement that has upped the ante on going green and living lean. Meatless Monday has taken its place at tables around the world, including restaurants, celebrities and entire communities, even Ivy League universities. Mom bloggers, special interest groups, and institutional foodservice contractors are also onboard, while major media outlets avidly cover the trend. Despite the inevitable backlash from meat producers, Meatless Monday continues to grow in momentum, asking only a once-weekly commitment for personal and planetary health. Read on for more info and robust recipes to help your family join the movement.
An American invention, Meatless Monday originated during World War I, and was used again in World War II, as a civilian conservation method proposed by the government to provide soldiers with sufficient food supplies. It was resurrected in 2003 by civilian Sid Lerner in response to the connection between food and health. The public health awareness campaign now spans the globe, with participating homes, restaurants, hospitals, schools and workplaces from America to Australia.
Oh Where, Oh Where, Have Your Fat Clothes Gone?
By simply substituting lighter, vegetable-based meals for one day each week, consumers have everything to gain and nothing to lose, except weight. Just one day a week without meat can help prevent cancer, diabetes, heart disease and obesity, and contribute to a longer, healthier life, without sacrificing nutrition. Johns Hopkins leads numerous other schools of public health in unconditionally supporting the grassroots health movement.
According to FarmFutures.com, the Animal Agriculture Alliance (AAA), a trade group of meat producers, opposes Meatless Monday, claiming that it eliminates consumer choice and is a “radical initiative pushing an extreme animal rights and environmental agenda.” The AAA offers information “targeted to agriculture groups, college students and other foodservice and nutrition leaders” to assist “agriculture advocates” in “combating the Meatless Monday myth.” According to a report by Euromonitor International, consumers eating less or no meat have driven down meat sales throughout the world.
Hollywood, Joe College, Corporate America, and a Big Bunch of Babies
The stellar cast of celebrities eating 15% less meat per week includes Oprah Winfrey, Russell Simmons and Robin Roberts (Good Morning America). Longtime vegetarian Sir Paul McCartney and his family founded Meat Free Monday, featuring news, information, recipes, a button for Brits to contact their MP, and the Meat Free Monday song download and cookbook. Duke University students, faculty and staff join in monthly Meatless Monday potluck lunches and raffle off cookbooks. Students at University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, Barnard College, Carnegie Mellon University, and Canada’s McGill University, to name a few, are enthusiastically embracing weekly meatless meals. After successful trials, Sodexho now serves weekly vegetable-based entrees to their clientele nationwide, including schools, colleges, governments, corporations and over 900 hospitals. And AARP, the voice of Baby Boomers, the largest and most powerful group of consumers in America, offers information and recipes for reducing consumption of meat and saturated fat on a weekly basis.
Town and Country
CNN, ABC, Food Network, the New York Times and the Christian Science Monitor are but a handful of the media reporting on Meatless Monday. BET publishes recipes from the official website. In 2009, Ghent, Belgium, and shortly thereafter the U.K., adopted the world’s first official vegetarian days. Aspen, CO, home of the renowned Aspen Food and Wine Classic, is now the US’ first “Meatless Monday community.” Mondays in San Francisco are officially designated “Vegetarian Days.” Over 21 countries, Brazil, Jamaica and Malaysia among them, now celebrate Meatless Monday.
Mom Bloggers Dish It Out
OK, so you’ve decided to try a soupcon of Meatless Monday on your family and see if it flies. Where to begin? For starters, try Cheesy Potato Soup from Working Mom Goes Green. Or Chickpea Stew from Red Hot Cookin’ Mama with Bleu Cheese Biscuits from Veggie Converter. Next up? See Mommy Cook turns to the vegetarian classic, the Moosewood Cookbook, for their Harvest Rice Salad. GPS now stands for Grilled Portobello Sandwich from the Ups and Downs of a Yoga Mom. Gotta go? Grab Dietitian on the Run’s Veggie Wrap Lunch. For dessert, choose from Baked Churros (Cooking with My Kid), Effortless Chocolate Ricotta Dessert (One Mile One Meal) or Blueberry Buttermilk Cake (Always Order Dessert). Bon appétit!