New York City is poised to join Los Angeles, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Washington, D.C., and Cleveland – major cities that have officially recognized Meatless Monday, an international campaign to cut down on meat consumption for health and environmental reasons. New York City Council members Helen Rosenthal and Corey Johnson (member of the Health Committee) recently held a press conference at City Hall introducing the resolution. It explains how the Meatless Monday campaign began as a nationwide war rationing effort in World Wars I and II, and was revived as a public health initiative in 2003 by The Monday Campaigns with Johns Hopkins University. The resolution brings awareness to the efforts already underway in the city’s restaurants, schools, and cafeterias to provide meat-free meals on Mondays, and it calls for an expansion of those efforts citywide.
During her remarks, Rosenthal acknowledged the diverse group of individuals and organizations lending their support, and introduced conference speakers including Erica Meier, executive director of Compassion over Killing, Peggy Neu, president of The Monday Campaigns, and Chef Bill Telepan, member of Wellness in the Schools.
Telepan said, “Meatless Monday is a timely initiative for New York City and the rest of the country. We need to revive the old adage mantra ‘You are what you eat’ and educate others to understand how small changes can have a tremendous impact.”
Sid Lerner, founder of the Meatless Monday movement and chairman of The Monday Campaigns, expressed his appreciation. “It’s wonderful that the New York City Council wants to recognize Meatless Monday officially. What perfect timing to introduce it with the new year, when many people are thinking of improving their diets. And, Meatless Monday can help New Yorkers cut out meat once a week for their health the health of our planet. We’re honored that Paul, Mary, and Stella McCartney support Meatless Monday, as well as chefs and restaurateurs like Bill Telepan, John Fraser, Jason Weiner, Marisa May and Mario Batali who have promoted Meatless Monday in their restaurants. “
The McCartneys, who importantly supported Meatless Monday globally in 2009 with Meat Free Monday in the UK, sent this message, “Great to hear that New York City officials are considering introducing Meatless Monday! It’s such an easy and enjoyable way to reduce our carbon footprint and improve our health. If the resolution passes, we look forward to seeing what delicious and creative meat free options chefs come up with on Mondays in this amazing city!”
Batali voiced his support, “Meatless Monday is an easy win, always has been. It’s been nothing but a positive experience since we introduced it in our restaurants five years ago and I’m thrilled to hear that New York City is introducing this citywide Meatless Monday resolution promoting health for people and planet.”
So did other leading chefs and restaurateurs.
“It’s encouraging to see the Council amplify the exposure of Meatless Mondays in one of the top restaurant cities in the world. Many New Yorkers are learning that taking one day off of meat can have lasting health and worldly effects. Meatless Mondays encourage diners to explore these options. We are able to build business while help expand healthful possibilities — everyone wins,” remarked John Fraser, Dovetail and Narcissa.
Marisa May, SD26, said, “Meatless Monday has been a great fit at SD26, allowing us to bring attention to the many delicious meatless dishes in our authentic Italian cuisine. Now that New York City is introducing this resolution, I hope that other restaurateurs will take the opportunity to highlight the meatless options found in their respective cuisines, both as a culinary exploration and for the health of New Yorkers!”
According to Jason Weiner, Almond NYC and Almond Bridgehampton, “Meatless Monday is expanding our clientele, challenging our cooks, and supporting our local growers. Put simply — Meatless Mondays is win, win, win.”
Council Member Rosenthal is optimistic about the City Council passing the resolution and sees a bright future for Meatless Monday. “As goes New York City, so goes the nation!”
The Monday Campaigns offer free information and materials for chefs and restaurateurs who want to launch Meatless Monday in their establishments.