When school started in September, the Baltimore School District became the first in the country to adopt a Meatless Monday policy. That decision has landed the administrators and their 80,000 students’ right in the middle of a heated controversy.
The Meatless Monday campaign is an international movement that asks people to cut out meat from their diet, one day a week. According to their website it is a non-profit organization whose goal is to reduce the amount of meat eaten by 15% in order to improve personal health and the health of the planet. The movement is promoted by celebrities such as Paul McCartney and medical institutions such as the John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.
And that is what representatives from Meatless Monday told Mellissa Mahoney, Chef and Dietician for Baltimore schools and Food Services Director, Tony Geraci when they met over the summer. Both administrators were impressed with the program and its credentials and agreed to take part.
What they didn’t know, at the time, was that Meatless Monday is also endorsed by PETA. And that missing piece of information has led to critics such as J. Patrick Boyle, president and CEO of the American Meat Institute to urge the school district to drop the program. He believes the campaign is a way for animal activists to brainwash young children.
In a letter to Andres A. Alonso, CEO of the school district, Boyle wrote, “I was disturbed to read about your school system’s decision to bow to an animal rights organization in holding “Meat Free Mondays.” This initiative is sponsored by the Grace Spira Project at the John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. The name Spira refers to Henry Spira, who is widely regarded as of the most extreme animal rights activists in the 20th century.”
Lucky for the kids in Baltimore, school administrators have not “bowed” down to Mr. Boyle. So from first grade through high school the lunch menu on Mondays consist of items such as meatless lasagna or a cheese sandwich and a bowl of mixed vegetables or broccoli.
Mahoney told CNSNews.com that the new menu has had a positive response from most staff and students. She said, “It’s not the ultimate goal to convert all Baltimorians to being vegans or vegetarians. What we want to do is at the least start the discussion about what you eat and how that affects the community, how that affects the planet, how it affects your health in general.”
Hopefully the school district will also start a discussion about the number of farm animals that can be saved with Meatless Monday. According to GoVeg.com if one person eats a vegetarian diet for one year, it will save the lives of 100 animals.
The original idea for Meatless Monday came about as a war effort to conserve resources during WW I and it turned out to have a tremendous beneficial effect saving the lives of animals.
Ten million families, 7,000 hotels and 425,000 food dealers pledged to remove meat from their menus on Mondays. In November 1917, New York City hotels saved nearly 116 tons of meat in just one week. According to a 1929 Saturday Evening Post article, “Americans began to look seriously into the question of what and how much they were eating. Lots of people discovered for the first time that they could eat less and feel no worse – frequently for the better.”
You can learn more about the global effect of Meatless Monday in a recent story by Care2 writer, Heather Moore. I would love to hear from Care2 members who are currently taking part in the campaign and read about their experiences.
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