Meatless Mondays in Baltimore Schools Causes Controversy

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 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 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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Carole R.
Carole R7 years ago

It is a good idea to have one meal a week without meat. Some children might never be exposed to the fact that you can have a meal without meat. This, at the very least, gives them something to think about.

Jon Garity
Jon Garity9 years ago

I agree wholeheartedly with Victoria. Yesterday I read an article stating that the USDA will be spending 130 million on RESEARCH into curbing emissions from Agribusiness.

They have a target of cutting national emissions by between 10 and 20 percent FROM 1990 LEVELS by 2020. FROM 1990 LEVELS! Why not from CURRENT levels!? A bare minimum percentage if any will be lowered - basically money for nothing.

Eat less or no meat, buy and grow local and organic foods. Problem solved. There is no need for research! It's a win win situation for all - except for the greedy rich liar faces.

Victoria H.
.9 years ago


Today, there is NO reason that we need to slaughter an animal so that we can survive. None whatsoever. I suggest some mind-expansion efforts that challenge the long-standing brainwashing tactics you have been exposed to--- before you settle on an opinion in this "Meatless Mondays" matter.

Do some homework, please!

Victoria H.
.9 years ago

The government subsidizes the meat industry. Money-making "deals" abound. So, to the best of my knowledge, the meat industry, in all of its wealth gained by cold and systematic mass killings of other animal species, are financial contributors to schools, and for reasons of personal interest: PROFIT. Do you really believe that they are out for your child's best interest? No they are not. They have used brainwashing and bullying as everyday tools for manipulating the way you spend your dollars...which, of course, they want. Although you won't read it on the front page or see it in the news headlines, the biggies inside the meat industry have a HEAVY hand in "deciding" what goes into the school lunch offerings. The most dangerously processed and poorest quality meats, the added fats and sugar, the preservatives and chemically treated pseudo-foods...are all chosen by the industry to "feed" the school kids. This should make you angry and disgusted, for you have been played as a fool. Why won't people see the BIG picture and look past their own insecurities or ingrained thinking? The child's interest should be of prime importance here, shouldn't it?

People of all sizes, shapes, ethnicities, religions, and ages have all done extremely well subsisting on a vegetarian/vegan diet. Today, there is NO reason that we need to slaughter an animal so that we can survive. None whatsoever. I suggest some mind-expansion efforts that challenge the long-standing brainwashing tactics you have

crystal m.
crystal B9 years ago

America consumes more than we should. Milk, chicken, pork, beef etc. In order to produce enough food for the whole country, every day what we consume,...the animals are tourcherd to death just to squeeze a little more money out for greedy reasons. meanwhile your getting ready to have a big juicy steak and tall glass of milk. little do you know ...that cow was waist deep in his own crap. In way too much pain to move, so he lay there. Untill shocked with prods in order to get him to move.
bone appetit if you seen pictures of Land o Lakes cows, you would vomit.
maybe now with people knowing what happens when animals are in high demand because we consume...jenny craig will go out of buesness

Karen T.
Karen T.9 years ago

Meatless mondays should be implemented in every school. People should start thinking and being aware at an early age of what they are eating. We grow up eating meat thinking it is just food and not a dead animal. I wish i had meatless mondays in school growing up, i would've went vegetarian long ago instead of just 4 years ago when i decided to start researching and thinking on my own, differently than the rest of my family and the way i was brought up.

Phyllis P.
Phyllis P9 years ago

This is really a tough issue. I can see the point that each side is making. I, too, don't appreciate someone telling me what I can or can't eat. But I also think that a meatless meal, or even an entire day, is a very good idea for many reasons, not the least of which is the monetary savings for school systems. It certainly isn't going to do anyone any harm. I am not a total advocate of PETA thinking. I do feel that, if meat must be eaten, or animal products must be used, attain this end in as humane and painless way as possible. I also feel that, since there are differing points of view, instead of just putting the "Meatless Monday" menu into effect without input from the parents of the students, maybe they could have a vote...or an open discussion. And, by the way, I think "Meatless Monday" is a GREAT idea, not only for students, but for everyone.

Gabi B.
Gabi B9 years ago

Well, this thread certainly became predictably nasty and divided. A perfect example of why this country and planet are at odds. There can be no peace, no true meeting of the minds and no true caretakers of the planet as long as there is no middle ground.

Aloha P.
Aloha P.9 years ago

EXTREME Compassion...for HUMANS is sometimes sorely Needed when all else fails. There is a Very Special Benefit that a Human Recieves when the unconscious addiction to animal flesh is sacrificed. This deep caring for self, the planet and life is A Blessing that too many are missing for wont of a random act of Kindness. Every Vegan has eaten flesh unless gifted from birth. I speak to the Heart of the Pre-Compassionate Eater...I hope in your own way, you Understand...Soon.

Pam King
Pam King9 years ago

Cindy O., I will state my opinion whenever I choose - and here goes. I looked at your profile. It's funny. You state you're against violence against animals, but you eat them. Not only do you eat them, but you're opposed to children in school having ONE DAY A WEEK, no not one day, ONE MEAL A WEEK, that doesn't contain the flesh of a butchered animal. I also read in your profile that if you were mayor, you would get rid of animosity..... Any blog I've read of yours displays nothing but animosity. You're misinformed and you spout whatever unpleasant opinions come to mind without putting an ounce of real thought into your statements. You might learn something if you actually took the time to have real conversations with others rather than going on the defensive and attacking everyone who doesn't agree with you. One last statement (for now), in checking out your profile, and this is not meant to be mean, just an observation - you are a fair bit overweight. Don't you think that maybe giving up one day a week of eating meat would contribute to your own health?