Many No Longer Participate in Meatless Monday Campaign
Posted By: Steve Dick, Executive Director
Ssshh. Don’t tell anyone. I sometimes enjoy meatless meals. And I’m not alone, even the most ardent beef, pork, poultry diners can enjoy a great entrée, soup or salad that doesn’t include meat. The key is choice and variety – taking advantage of the many food options available to create a meal that meets my nutrition and budget needs and tastes great.
Since the launch of the “Meatless Monday” campaign nearly 10 years ago, its organizers have repeatedly announced high profile restaurants, institutions and organizations as participating in the program to serve only meatless food options every Monday. The campaign’s web site claims hundreds of participating organizations in categories including schools, school districts, colleges and universities, food service clients and restaurants.
However, when the Animal Agriculture Alliance surveyed these organizations, they found that a large percentage of listed organizations no longer or never participated in the program.
- More than 51 percent of the 236 kindergarten through twelfth grade schools listed as participating no longer or never participated in the program
- More than 43 percent of the 155 colleges/universities listed no longer or never participated
- More than 57 percent of listed school districts no longer or never participated
- More than 35 percent of restaurants no longer or never participated
- More than 47 percent of food service providers no longer or never participated
The Alliance heard repeatedly that the Meatless Mondays campaign adoptions were “widely unpopular, led to food waste, and elicited complaints from parents worried about proper nutrition.” Read more here.
School nutritionists and dietitians stated that they stopped participating because of parent and student complaints about lack of choice and pointed out that vegetarian options are always available for interested students. One restaurant owner said “I have an obligation to my customers to serve what they want. That means having both meat and vegetarian options.”
Just as I don’t want to be told I have to eat beef, pork or eggs on a certain day, I don’t want to be told which day to eat a meatless dish. It sounds like the students, customers and patients of Meatless Mondays organizations feel the same.
We are fortunate to have one of the world’s safest, most abundant food supplies with numerous choices. But even here, many people are not sure where their next meal will come from. In South Dakota alone, more than 103,000 people are at risk of hunger, according to data from Feeding South Dakota.
With the holiday season fast approaching, I’d challenge everyone to stop worrying about limiting choice, instead talk about the benefits of all food options, and work hard to ensure that everyone has access to the food they need.