By Katy Snyder, JVA Consulting
I first happened upon the Meatless Monday campaign a few months back. I was looking for Valentine’s Day (which happened to fall on a Monday) dinner ideas for my husband and me that were cheaper than the $75 and up dinners offered at most restaurants that day. In doing so, I came across Whole Food’s Meatless Monday dinners, which included a salad, bread, entrée and dessert for two for only $15 bucks. Not only was the price right, but the food was delicious. While Whole Foods has decided not to continue with its prepackaged Meatless Monday meals, their efforts are part of a national campaign that is ongoing to get Americans to go meatless every Monday.
The Meatless Monday campaign is part of the larger Monday Campaigns, which is a nonprofit movement that advocates for a variety of health-related changes that people can implement on Mondays (such as getting more exercise, quitting smoking, etc.). Why Mondays? According to the campaign, Monday is the “January” of the week, meaning that it is the day that people make fresh commitments and set the tone for the rest of the week—the day when people are more likely to begin exercising, start a diet or quit smoking than any other day.
Why give up meat for one day, you ask? Because even taking just one day off from meat provides benefits for your health and the health of the environment. According to the Meatless Monday website, going meatless is correlated with lower cancer, heart disease and obesity risk, and helps cuts down on greenhouse gases, water usage and fossil fuel dependence. And for someone like me who is not ready to give up on meat completely, it’s a great way to make an impact without giving up the foods you love. Plus, spring is a great time to start—the perfect way to use all of that fresh produce that’s finally coming into season.
And it’s not just an individual movement—companies and schools across the country have jumped on the bandwagon. Places as varied as Toyota, Oprah’s Harpo studios and food giant, Sodexho, long maligned for its less than stellar food practices, along with countless school districts are going veggie on Mondays. The Baltimore School District, for instance, which is made up of over 80,000 students, has been meatless on Mondays for two years. Locally, Boulder’s St. Vrain Valley School District adopted Meatless Monday in 2010.
Not only can you improve your health and the environment, but going meatless forces you to be more creative. Since we’ve cut down on our meat intake, my husband and I have tried a bunch of new recipes—poblano peppers stuffed with black beans and masa, grilled portabella burgers, and a white bean, sweet potato and kale soup—all the more reason to keep it up! Need some recipe ideas of your own? Click here for an extensive list of ideas.
Unfortunately, Denver does not yet have a comprehensive list of restaurants that are participating in Meatless Mondays, so let us know if you have a favorite meatless Monday spot by leaving a comment. And here’s to Meatless Mondays!