Fourth-generation pig farmer Joe Maxwell was a welcomed addition to the most recent Meatless Monday community dinner in Aspen, Colorado. The special guest speaker explained how the occasional meatless meal can bolster family farms and animal husbandry.
The town of Aspen is a true Meatless Monday community. Each week, the movement is shared and celebrated by schools across the district, 20 local restaurants, the Cancer Survivor Center, the Aspen Global Change Institute, and the University of Colorado School of Medicine. Recently, neighbors gathered at the Aspen Club and Spa for a Meatless Monday potluck and discussion series. In between courses of soba noodles and quinoa with fruit and walnuts, Missouri rancher Joe Maxwell explained that the benefits of Meatless Monday go beyond individual health.
Maxwell is a fourth-generation rancher and the former Lieutenant Governor for Missouri. He told the crowd that going meatless can help reduce water use and degradation of rural communities. Being more selective with meat consumption also ensures that you’re helping farmers who engage in healthful, sustainable, and humane practices. “We just can’t sustain our current system, and every time you go to the grocery store, you vote with your diet,” Maxwell told the crowd.
Maxwell leads by example: he is a self-proclaimed flexitarian -or, a vegetarian who occasionally eats meat- and his farm only produces Global Animal Certified-products. Dawn Shepard, personal trainer and founder of the community’s Meatless Monday movement, further encouraged citizens to heed Maxwell’s words in an open letter to the Aspen Daily News:
“Joe Maxwell… gave an impassioned talk about why reducing meat consumption is important and that by observing Meatless Monday you can help the planet, yourself and the animals. We should refine our choices of meat, dairy, and eggs to include only those produced by local ranchers who do not use antibiotics, growth hormones and use humane animal practices. When you go to a restaurant, ask where your food comes from. We want to take factory-farmed meat off our plates.”