There’s more good news from New York! New York City has the largest public school system in the country with a million students. We’ve written about several New York City public schools going all vegetarian. Students, parents and teachers have been very happy at the results – they’re seeing healthier kids and better grades. Read more
Tag Archives: Meatless Mondays
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced this week that starting next school year, all schools in the city will have vegetarian meals on Mondays.
According to the mayor, the Meatless Mondays program is aimed at improving student health and the city’s environmental impact, “We’re expanding Meatless Mondays to all public schools to keep our lunch and planet green for generations to come.” the mayor said.
“Meatless Mondays” are good for the environment, said Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza. “Our 1.1 million students are taking the next step towards healthier, more sustainable lives.”
Food such as lentil Sloppy Joes, pasta fagioli, Mexicali chili, braised black beans with plantains, and teriyaki crunchy tofu will now be served in New York City’s public schools!
This progress comes on the heels of three New York City schools that have become completely all vegetarian every day of the week-and the kids love it. Parents have also become very supportive of the change as they see improvements in their children.
For years we’ve heard every excuse from many of Washington’s public schools. But, if a city as big and diverse as New York can do it, we’re sure Seattle can as well. Let’s hope New York City will set an example for Seattle and other cities to follow.
Gene Roddenberry, creator of the Star Trek series, brought meaningful and thought-provoking science fiction to “think, question, and challenge the status quo” to audiences across the globe, with the intention of creating “a brighter future”. In 2010, Gene’s son Rod established the Roddenberry Foundation to build on his father’s legacy and philosophy of inclusion, diversity, and respect for life.
As part of the annual Roddenberry Prize grant, which this year focuses on innovative approaches to Climate Change, the foundation recently awarded $250,000 to the vegan startup Green Monday for converting 1.6 million Hong Kong residents to a plant-based diet. Read more
Paul McCartney has produced a new short documentary on the importance of going meat-free for just one day a week. He explained the goal in making this film, “My film, ‘One Day a Week,’ aims to raise awareness of this important issue and show people that if we all join together in this effort, we can help improve the environment, reduce the negative impacts of climate change, and even improve people’s health.”
His daughters Stella and Mary McCartney, plus actors Woody Harrelson and Emma Stone are also featured, as they narrate and share facts about how livestock agriculture impacts climate change and the environment. “Meat Free Monday encourages people to not eat meat at least one day a week with the hope that if enough people do it and the idea spreads, it will make a difference,” said McCartney.
We encourage you to share this video with friends and family.
First it was Meatless Mondays, a public health campaign associated with the John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. The Biltmore city schools went first and were followed by a number of other public and private schools. At last count 53 school districts have jumped aboard. Then two New York City public schools went completely vegetarian. Now, a private elementary school in California has gone all vegan.
The MUSE School in Calabasas, California, will complete a transition to an all-vegan menu beginning in the fall. Though at least one school has gone vegetarian, MUSE is believed to be the first primary or secondary school in the nation to go entirely vegan. MUSE was founded by actress Suzy Amis Cameron and her sister Rebecca Amis in 2006, with a focus on sustainability. According to spokeswoman Jennifer Mau, MUSE’s board and administration made the decision to go vegan last spring.
Almost as special is that nearly half of the produce will be sourced from on campus gardens and greenhouses, thanks to the school’s Seed to Table initiative, which grows about 200 different varieties. Fifth grader turned part-time gardener Emma Leyson is proud of her greens and says to a reporter, “This is the strawberry plant I planted.” As part of their curriculum, the students learn how to create food from seed to table. “The other day, we made tomato soup, and I grew rosemary and it was in the soup and I was excited” said the young Emma.
It’s another veg first. We couldn’t be more proud of both students, parents and teachers.
I have gravitated towards helping animals for as long as I can remember, especially feeling a drive to rescue and save injured, abandoned and neglected animals. Undercover footage of factory farms opened my eyes to the cruelty farmed animals endure and I immediately stopped consuming animal flesh. As I learned more about the condition of animals used for dairy and eggs, I eliminated those items from my diet as well. The same for eschewing leather, fur, wool and honey, my behavior changed as I learned more. My journey to be vegan has been a path of progression. The urge to protect animals is the driving force behind every choice I make.
What moved you to work with The Humane League?
The Humane League’s vision of seeing a world where animals are treated with respect and compassion really appealed to me. I have worked with companion animals in shelters and through internships with HSUS, I was able to work on projects about marine animals, equines, animals in research and blood “sports.” Even so, the magnitude of suffering on factory farms far outweighs all other animal suffering, over 9 billion land animals are killed for food in the US each year! This was an area where I felt I could make a difference for a lot of animals. I was impressed to learn The Humane League is certified “Best” by Independent Charities of America, and rated as one of the two most cost-effective animal protection charities in the world by Animal Charity Evaluators.
Tell us something about what The Humane League does?
The Humane League advocates for farmed animals, promotes a vegetarian diet and works to end the suffering of as many animals as possible. The methods of advocacy we employ are researched and tested for efficacy through our research division, Humane League Labs. The three pillars of our work are outreach, education, and campaigns. Our humane education program offers free presentations about factory farming and the impacts on animals, health and the environment. I provide these presentations to high schools and colleges in the greater Seattle area. Outreach efforts include distributing free vegetarian starter guides in news racks around the city, handing out booklets on factory farming and veg eating at universities, concerts and events, and tabling with vegetarian information at festivals. While we work on a variety of campaigns, my current focus is bringing Meatless Mondays to Seattle Public Schools – this program would spare 25,000 animals a year. I’d also love to see the City of Seattle adopt a Meatless Monday resolution, which aligns with the city’s climate action plan where reducing meat consumption is already encouraged. Numerous other cities have already adopted similar resolutions, to include South Miami County, FL; Los Angeles, CA; San Francisco, CA; Boone, NC; Oakland, CA; and Philadelphia, PA!
What are some of the things you wished people knew more about or understood better about farm animals?
I wish people knew that these incredible sentient beings are unique, with distinct personalities who have the ability to experience pain and pleasure, and they have a desire to live – like we do. Pigs have dreams, chickens can count to ten, and fish rub against each other to relieve stress. Like dogs and cats, farmed animals are intelligent and emotional creatures that deserve our moral consideration and protection. I encourage people to spend time at farm sanctuaries and develop our innate bond with animals.
Do you see progress, are you optimistic about the future?
Yes! I am optimistic about the future and I’m seeing progress. Sometimes the progress seems too slow or too small given the enormous challenges ahead, but I appreciate it is still movement in the right direction. I’m inspired by the next generation of animal advocates who are seeking professional training to become more effective for animals and the number of students pursuing humane education and careers that will benefit animals. I’m watching this movement become an unstoppable force!
We saw Al Gore become the first ever Vice President to go vegan. As one of the leaders of the environmental movement, the significance of this can hardly be overstated considering how resistant many environmentalists have been. The first ever Vegetarian Caucus in Congress was founded, and has been growing by leaps and bounds all year. With interest from the newly elected vegetarian senator Cory Booker, it shows ever-increasing promise for further growth.
The first ever leader of a major global hunger relief agency, Bill Gates of the Gates foundation, came out in favor of the vegan diet as the long-term sustainable answer to the persistent problem of global hunger.
The first all vegetarian public school opened in New York City. Reports later showed improved test scores and health of the students. Though they may have had mixed motivations, we even saw the first ever all vegetarian jail system begin in Arizona.
Health Insurance company, Kaiser Permanente, broke new ground in sending an advisory to all its doctors to advise their patients of the health advantages of the vegetarian diet. In addition, a major breakthrough happened showing how the meat-centered diet fuels breast cancer. Almost as significant, at the end of the year was major research showing the connection between diet and Alzheimer’s disease. We’ll be reporting on these advances, showing the health advantages of the veg diet soon.
The first ever head of state, Benjamin Netanyahu, endorsed meatless Mondays. And, not to be outdone, in Norway the first ever military and NATO member began Meatless Mondays as well.
On the product front we saw the introduction of “hyper-real” meat analogues, plus the development of synthetic eggs so real that no one can tell the difference. While we’re still not sure how we feel about this, the first ever stem-cell grown “meat” was produced.
Meanwhile, public interest in the vegetarian way grows and grows. Hardly a month goes by without another Hollywood celeb or musician jumping on board. In the faith-based community, the influential pastor and author, Rick Warren, jumped on board the vegetarian band wagon with the Daniel Plan diet.
We look forward to 2014 with growing hope and excitement as the veg message gains more and more traction. Happy New Year to one and all.
At this time of year, many turn their thoughts to the various faith-based communities. Here are just a few new developments of veg-interest that have caught our notice. This adds to the already rich veg-offerings of many faith communities, both East and West, which are already well established.
Israeli PM Joins Meatless Mondays
Vegetarian food choices were already becoming popular in Israel, but they have recently received a big boost from Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and his wife Sara, who have decided to join the Meatless Monday initiative. As far as we know, he is the first head of state to endorse and follow the program. “With my responsibility as prime minister to protect the lives of people here, I feel committed to increase awareness to fight cruelty toward animals,” Netanyahu said. Read more
Are vegetarian meals available at the North Pole? Well not quite…yet. Almost at the North Pole, Norway has just instituted meatless meals once a week for their entire military, in order to do their part in the struggle against global warming.
According to spokesman Eystein Kvarving “It’s a step to protect our climate. The idea is to serve food that’s respectful of the environment. It’s not about saving money. It’s about being more concerned for our climate, more ecologically friendly and also healthier.” A Norwegian environmental group that campaigns for meatless meals nationwide, The Future in Our Hands, welcomed the military’s announcement. “The defense ministry deserves a lot of praise because it’s taking climate and environmental issues seriously,” said the group’s director, Arild Hermstad.
Of course in instituting the new policy some preconceptions need to be overcome, since only about 1 to 2 percent of Norwegians self-identify as vegetarians. The Future in Our Hands group says that the average Norwegian currently eats more than 1,200 animals in his or her lifetime, including 1,147 chickens, 22 sheep, 6 cattle, and almost 3 deer.
“It seems that people don’t think it’s possible to be an iron man as a vegetarian. It seems like they don’t think a good soldier can be a vegetarian, but we have a lot of soldiers who are vegetarian, so I know it’s possible,” says Pal Stenberg, a nutritionist and navy commander who heads up the army’s catering division. “We have to use a lot of effort in communicating both the environmental benefits and the health benefits.”
We’re glad they recognize some of the health benefits. Actually, this should already be well-known to them. While their country was occupied during World War II, the supply of animal products was all but cut off from the general population. During that time disease rates fell significantly, giving something of a silver lining to all the hardship. Now that they recognize the environmental and health benefits of a vegetarian diet, we hope they will come to learn more about compassion towards animals and the global hunger benefits of a vegetarian diet as well.
To our knowledge, this is the first instance of an entire military going veg once a week. The significance of this can hardly be overstated. Hopefully this will set the ball rolling for other NATO members to follow suit. So far, the vegetarian fare is going over pretty well amongst the troops, especially the meat analogues. One soldier was convinced the mysterious soy product in his taco was actually ground beef because it was so real.
In the meantime, Santa please take note. We’re getting real close to the North Pole. So on your next trip down from the Pole, why not stop at Spisestedet, an all plant-based restaurant in Oslo, and treat yourself and the elves to dinner. They’re making a recipe and checking it twice. Their chimney is all clear for you and you’ll be giving yourself, the elves, the planet, and all who share it, the most precious gift of all: life itself.
We recently wrote about the first public school go all vegetarian. While we know of no other public school that has as yet, followed New York’s lead, we do want to report about three other major school districts that have made some profound moves in the veg-direction. The latest is the San Diego public school system which has enacted a Meatless Monday policy for every school in the city. Almost as exciting is the level of recognition shown by its school board members. Just listen to what their vice president, Kevin Beiser, has to say. It represents such a sea change that it’s worth quoting:
As a member of the San Diego Unified school board, I’m proud to have helped pass the resolution to participate in Meatless Mondays at our elementary and K-8 schools. When I joined the board, it was because I wanted to do to everything I can to ensure a better future and more opportunities for our city’s children. Food and nutrition plays a big, but often overlooked, role in education and it’s time we give it the attention it deserves.
We hear so much more these days about the obesity epidemic. Nearly 28 percent of children in San Diego County are overweight or obese. Nationally, the CDC reports that obesity rates have tripled in adolescents and doubled in children over the last three decades. This crisis has both long- and short-term implications. Obese children are likely to become obese adults, putting them at increased risk of heart disease, stroke, some cancers, high blood pressure and diabetes.
Earlier this month the Permanente Journal — published by insurance giant Kaiser Permanente — included a report recommending that physicians encourage patients to eat more plant-based foods. “Studies exploring the risk of overweight and food groups and dietary patterns indicate that a plant-based diet seems to be a sensible approach for the prevention of obesity in children,” it said…
…There are other benefits of Meatless Monday, as well. Industrial animal agriculture has been implicated by the United Nations as one of the top contributors to global environmental problems, due to its vast use of land, water and fossil fuels, and methane high carbon and dioxide emissions. And leading environmental organizations like the Sierra Club, Environmental Defense Fund, and Natural Resources Defense Council support reducing our meat consumption to improve environmental sustainability.
Lawrence Hansen, a professor at the UC San Diego medical school, urged the board to steer children toward healthy diets that are free of animal products. “I have five reasons why the district should adopt Meatless Mondays: heart disease, cancer, strokes, diabetes and obesity,”
Just a few months earlier, Los Angeles also enacted a meatless Mondays program in their school district as well. This is significant since Los Angeles has the second-largest public school district in the country.
However the Baltimore City Public School system gets bragging rights for becoming the first fully Meatless Monday school system in the U.S. The menu adjustment is the brainchild of a nonprofit initiative, in association with Johns Hopkins’ Bloomberg School of Public Health, and it shows just how much can be accomplished when nonprofits team up with governmental authorities.