Just recently, the Helsinki City Council in Finland voted in favor of a weekly vegetarian day in Helsinki schools. Some ardent carnivores are a bit bitter about the decision, but most people recognize that the move will help curb climate change and encourage students to eat healthier. Going meatless is becoming the popular—and responsible—thing to do in many schools.
The New York City Department of Education is currently considering a “Meatless Monday” program, following a proposal by Manhattan borough president Scott M. Stringer. Stringer has pointed out that meatless meals are generally lower in saturated fat, which is important considering that one in five N.Y. kindergarten students is considered obese and at greater risk for diabetes, heart disease, and other health problems.
Baltimore City schools began observing “Meatless Mondays” last fall, and although the president and CEO of the American Meat Institute wasn’t happy with the move, many students, parents, and teachers have applauded the decision. Meatless meals are not only healthier and “greener,” they tend to cost less to make. Many versatile vegan staples, including vegetables, beans, lentils, tofu, and pasta, are still relatively inexpensive compared to meat, eggs, and dairy products.
And, of course, schools that participate in Meatless Monday programs also help save animals. By serving only vegetarian food one day a week, schools, including Barham Park Primary School and Townley Grammar School in the United Kingdom, are teaching children to make smart, compassionate choices that reduce animal suffering.
Students who are taught why it is important to eat meatless meals better understand how their choices not only affect them, but animals and future generations. While mystery meat, chicken nuggets, and pepperoni pizza may still be sold in school cafeterias, students will ultimately learn to opt for healthier vegetarian alternatives on a regular basis.
If you’re a student, a teacher, or a parent, PETA’s TeachKind representatives can help you implement Meat-Free Mondays at your school . They can even provide Meat-Free Monday lesson plans, reproducible worksheets, and posters.
Of course, if you’re not a student, teacher, or parent, you can still participate in Meatless Mondays—or any other day you choose. Just pick at least one day a week not to eat meat. For recipes and product suggestions, see VegCooking.com.