Meatless Monday Gains Momentum

Meatless Monday Gains Momentum

Food & Drink

Meatless Monday Gains Momentum

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By Cari Martens

Thinking about going vegetarian, but not quite ready to take the plunge? What if you started weaning yourself off the stuff by going meatless just one day a week? Seems doable, right?

That’s the basic idea behind Meatless Monday, a healthy eating initiative that seems to be building some legitimate momentum. It merely asks that all of us carnivores do without meat just once week. Namely, Monday.

And you thought Monday was a hard enough day to get out of bed as it was. Now we’re supposed to rise and shine with no hope for bacon?

Meatless Monday is a non-profit initiative, in association with the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. The program’s stated goal: “To help reduce meat consumption 15% in order to improve personal health and the health of our planet.”

As reported by Christopher Borrelli, writing for the Chicago Tribune, the Meatless Monday movement is being backed by a growing number of restaurants—including some very high-profile establishments. It’s also gaining support from well-known food suppliers, and, not surprisingly, from environmentalists, nutritionists, animal rights activists, universities, hospitals, and public health advocates. Baltimore Public Schools and Yale University have observed Meatless Mondays for a year now.

Celebrities including Lance Armstrong and John Tesh have come out in favor of it. This spring, San Francisco became the first American city to officially encourage its restaurants to back Meatless Monday.

Mario Batali will observe Meatless Monday in all 14 of his restaurants, offering a few vegetarian selections under the MM banner. Wolfgang Puck does likewise with his Wolfgang Puck Pizzeria & Cucina in Las Vegas.

Quoted in Borrelli’s story, Chris Elam, the program’s director, says, ‘We’re not vegans here. We’re not even vegetarians. We’re not animal-rights activists. All you have to do is offer a dish that is legitimately a vegetarian option, and most of our restaurants were already doing this anyway.’

Some restaurants have enthusiastically bought into the program, offering a separate supplementary and somewhat extensive vegetarian menu on Mondays.

Elam hopes that consumers will also embrace the concept for Monday meals at home.

As many supporters have noted, the program is basically a message of moderation, harking back to the simple advice espoused by Michael Pollan, author of “The Omnivore’s Dilemma,” and Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual. Pollan’s mantra: Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.

Eliminating meat just one day a week might not constitute the ‘mostly plants’ part of that, but it’s a start.

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