Founded in July 2011 by neuroscientist Dr. Custer C. Deocaris, “Luntiang Lunes” is quickly gaining support from government officials throughout the Philippines. Following the successful implementation of the campaign at Tarlac State University and the Sophia School in Bulacan, more schools and agencies are poised to spread the movement across the country.
On July 9th, representatives from Quezon City, the most populous city in the Philippines, gathered to sign a Memorandum of Agreement on the country’s Luntiang Lunes campaign. The Meatless Monday Memorandum was supported by the Mayor and Vice Mayor of QC, as well as the city Health Department.
Councilor Jessica Castelo Daza began the effort to officially back the campaign in February, urging Quezon City to protect the health of 11,000 government workers by serving meatless meals on Monday. According to the official Luntiang Lunes Facebook page, “The MOA will pave the way for the passing of the City Ordinance marking QC as the 1st Meatless Monday City in the Philippines.”
Meatless Monday is already set to spread beyond Quezon City: In August the Lower House will deliberate the “Luntiang Lunes Bill,” a piece of legislation that would make Meatless Monday a staple in elementary and high schools throughout the Philippines. The bill was filed by Party-list Rep. Teddy Casiño, who hopes that meatless meals in the cafeteria and nutrition education in the classroom will encourage students to eat more locally-grown produce:
“A quarter of adult Filipinos are already hypertensive and 7 million are diagnosed with diabetes, making the Philippines one of the world’s top ten epicenters of the disease. Each year, 200,000 Filipinos die of non-communicable diseases (NCDs), with heart disease as the leading cause of death. Long-term health care costs for NCDs are staggering. This also undermines the country’s economic development.”
Currently, the Philippines has one of the lowest per capita intakes of vegetables in the world, at only 39 kilograms (or 86 lbs per person, per year). If the bill passes, the country’s Department of Education will work alongside the Department of Health, Department of Agriculture, the Luntiang Lunes Campaign and the Nutritionist-Dietitian’s Association of the Philippines, using Monday periodicity, menus and lesson plans to educate the next generation of Filipinos about the benefits of meatless meals and a nutritionally-balanced diet.