Meatless Monday Campaign Catches On

A growing number of people, organizations, and corporations all over the world are designating a meat-free day each week in an effort to cut overall meat consumption.

"Meatless Monday" launched in 2003 as a non-profit initiative by The Monday Campaigns, a non-profit public health initiative in association with Columbia Mailman School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, and Syracuse Newhouse School of Public Communications. The campaign provides information and materials to those who want to adopt meat-free days.

Big names - even entire cities - are starting to join in. In 2009, Ghent, Belgium, became the first city in Europe to sponsor a meatless day each week (on a Thursday, actually). On that day, Ghent restaurants and food providers are promoting meat-free menu options, and town residents are encouraged to opt for vegetarian meals. In February, 2011, Oprah announced her Harpo Studios would institute Meatless Mondays, while encouraging her millions of viewers to try it.

The French multinational Sodexo, one of the largest food services companies in the world and the supplier to a large number of schools, hospitals, worksites, and government agencies in the U.S., is now lending its support to the Meatless Monday movement, as well. In January, the corporation introduced the initiative in 900 hospitals across the country. Beginning this fall, over 650 colleges, 500 school districts, and 150 private schools served by Sodexo will also participate.

Some 56 billion animals are raised for food each year - the vast majority of whom are raised on factory farms. Indeed, large-scale factory farms evolved primarily to feed America’s enormous appetite for meat. Reducing meat consumption could ease our reliance on factory farming, with its relentless pressure to raise ever more animals under increasingly inhumane conditions. Tipping the scales toward truly higher-welfare farming, on the other hand, would contribute to more sustainable land use and help reduce animal suffering.

More information about the Meatless Monday campaign can be found at www.meatlessmonday.com.