Could you enjoy one meal a week without meat? How about an entire day meat-free?
That’s the hope of the Mondays Campaign, a non-profit initiative in association with the Johns Hopkins’ Bloomberg School of Public Health. Called Meatless Mondays, the campaign aims to “provide you with the information and recipes you need to start each week with healthy, environmentally friendly, meat-free alternatives.”
Founded in 2003 by Sid Lerner, Meatless Monday has been endorsed by over 30 schools of public health and adopted by restaurants, schools, hospitals and worksites around the world.
According to the group’s website meatlessmonday.com, presidents Wilson, Roosevelt and Truman galvanized the nation with voluntary meatless days during both world wars. The government proclaimed “Food Will Win the War.” In 1917, New York City hotels saved over 116 tons of meat of the course of just one week. Reviving the movement, Meatless Monday hopes that by cutting out meat once a week, we can improve our health and reduce our carbon footprint while leading the race to curb climate change. The movement has taken hold internationally with more than 23 nations participating, including the U.K., Japan, Australia, Spain and South Africa. The movement has even taken hold in our own backyard.
When the Dark Horse restaurant opened at 1 East Main St., owner Dee Muma made additional vegetarian and vegan selections available on Wednesdays and she coined it, “For the Planet, Damnit.” Muma’s idea came to the attention of the Mondays Campaign and they contacted her, asking if she would instead become a Meatless Monday participant.
While Muma is quick to point out she is not the food police, she feels the planet can use a little less density in food production, noting that every pound of beef produced requires 95 pounds of feed. The Dark Horse restaurant still offers a full, regular menu on Monday night that always includes meat, vegetarian and vegan choices. However on Mondays, additional dishes are created to, “seduce meat eaters to happily eat vegetarian or vegan once a week,” says Muma. The dishes are regionally inspired and Muma sources as many ingredients as she can from local producers. Menus can be viewed at www.darkhorserestaurant.com.
Meatless Monday lists numerous health as well as environmental benefits of going meatless including curbing obesity, reducing risk of heart disease, limiting cancer risk, minimizing water usage, and reducing fossil fuel dependence. The campaign suggests cutting meat out more often, if possible, and if you do eat meat, they strongly recommend grass-fed, hormone free, locally raised options whenever possible.