Ten years ago, Meatless Monday began with a simple idea: one day a week, cut out meat. Tomorrow, in recognition of Earth Day, is a great day to look at how that idea has evolved into a vast international campaign.
If you were fluent in 23 languages, you would hear “Meatless Monday” spoken in 35 countries around the globe. And in many places, the rapid success of the program has become a story in itself.
South Africa’s Meat Free Mondays, launched in 2009, seemed like a dubious bet in a country whose National Heritage Day is nicknamed “National Barbecue Day”. But organizers campaigned aggressively, paying particular attention to students, who research showed are more likely to care about the environment and change their behavior accordingly. In 2012 Meat Free Monday advocates spoke to over 10,000 students nationwide, and have since received over 6,000 pledges to drop meat from their plate once a week. This year, the Meat Free team hopes to speak to an additional 15,000 students, while bringing universities into the mix. They also aim to create partnerships with businesses and local governments in the interest of a broad-based coalition.
Other countries have implemented unique media strategies to get the word out. Chile’s Lunes Sin Carne erected a fun booth at Lollapalooza, the huge traveling music festival popular among millennials. Organizers reported that the event, Lunes Sin Carne’s first, was a resounding success.
In the digital sphere, Iran’s Meatless Monday program made big waves with a gorgeously shot and cut video proclaiming the benefits of a plant-based diet. Shayan Mohammad Moradi, the film’s director and President of the Omega Research Team, which heads the initiative, sat for an interview to describe its production and his team’s readiness to face the challenges ahead.
As a global movement, the beauty of Meatless Monday lies in its adaptability to customs and concerns at the local level. Consider how you too might bring Meatless Monday to your community. Whether you’re a student, parent, volunteer, or just an environmentally conscious citizen, tomorrow offers a great opportunity to applaud Earth Day’s past successes and lay a foundation for its future.