30 June 2011

The 'Meatless Monday' movement grows in popularity with omnivores

You know that a trend has gone mainstream once it hits The New York Times. And recently, the Times featured an article about the movement called “Meatless Mondays,” in which everyone—vegans, vegetarians, flexitarians, omnivores—are encouraged to leave off the meat for an evening, and eat a totally veg-based meal for dinner.

It seems that even meat-lovers are getting behind the movement, which was rejuvenated began back in 2003 by The Monday Campaigns along with the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health (it was originally introduced back during World War I and again during World War II, as a money-saving economic measure). And while the movement was originally US-based, it does seem to be gaining popularity around the world these days.

According to The Times article, the movement is now huge in Aspen, Colorado—home to some of the most ardent carnivores in the country. Apparently, Aspen has embraced Meatless Mondays more than any other city in the U.S., with “At least 20 institutions and restaurants. . . offering vegetarian choices on Mondays under a plan announced this month.”

Martin Oswald, a restaurateur who led the campaign to sign up as many restaurants as possible believes that, in part, the movement’s growing popularity—and peer pressure--helped to increase the acceptance of Meatless Monday’s in Aspen. “The key was to get enough restaurants involved,” he said. His tactic was to approach with, ‘Well, that guy does it and that guy over there and this guy does it over here. Do you want to do it, too?’ Happily, most venues complied. Now, with veggie choices for dinner, at schools and on brunch menus, Aspen has been dubbed “the nation’s first true Meatless Monday community” according to the Meatless Monday Campaign.

With a growing awareness that veggie-centric meals are healthier, less expensive, better for the animals and better for your own health, it’s possible that Aspen will serve as a role model for the rest of us, leading the whole country to a new and more compassionate style of eating on Mondays—or every day.

Ricki Heller, PhD, RHN | @RickiHeller
Formerly the owner of a vegan bakery, Ricki adapted those recipes for her cookbook, Sweet Freedom: Desserts You'll Love without Wheat, Eggs, Dairy or Refined Sugar. She also writes articles about food for various publications and online sites. Find Ricki posting delicious, healthy recipes on her blog, Diet, Dessert and Dogs.

Photo credit:cc:flickr.com/photos/altopower/