In June 2011, when Aspen, CO, became the nation’s first true Meatless Monday community, the move made national news. The New York Times took note and reported on the town’s ambitious efforts to unite around the practice of skipping meat once a week to better personal health and the environment.
Fast forward to 2013, and Meatless Monday is going strong in the famed mountain town. More than two dozen restaurants are now serving Meatless Monday options, and these eating establishments join local public schools, Aspen Valley Hospital and other area institutions in showing how easy and healthy forgoing meat on Mondays can be.
Aspen MM is also making Meatless Monday a fun community event. Organizer Dawn Shepard recently put on a “Dinner and a Movie” night at Aspen Valley Hospital (with vegetarian food provided by the hospital cafeteria). And later this month the Whole Foods Market in nearby Basalt, CO, will host a Meatless Monday healthy eating talk and dinner, Shepard reports.
And it’s not just Aspen that’s found a way to make Meatless Monday fun. In Morristown, NJ, local group Bike and Walk Morristown celebrated the first warm spring Monday of the year with a group bike ride to a Middle Eastern restaurant. After burning some calories, participants enjoyed a vegetarian meal of falafel and hummus. The Morristown Meatless Monday ride will be an ongoing weekly event.
Other cities and towns are also making great strides in their Meatless Monday campaigns. From sprawling and densely populated Los Angeles to the Triangle Meatless Monday community in North Carolina, cities have drummed up impressive support from area residents, restaurants, schools, hospitals and local governments. Active on Twitter and Facebook, Triangle Meatless Monday is spreading the word about new Meatless Monday restaurant options, recipe contests and more great local activities.
In Boone, NC, the local town council adopted a resolution February 21 supporting Meatless Monday as a way to “raise awareness about health benefits to individuals and the environment.” The resolution also encourages residents to explore adding more meatless options to their diets.
Farther south in Florida’s Escambia County (which includes the city of Pensacola), the Escambia County Health Department launched Meatless Monday in January. It has promoted the campaign through billboards and radio spots, signed on local restaurants and outlined to citizens the various benefits of going meatless once a week. The department’s website includes 14 recipes (from Hearty Vegetable Jambalaya to a Family Frittata) providing practical – and delicious – meat-free meal ideas for home cooks.
In the northeast, Syracuse, NY, continues to be a leader in the Meatless Monday movement as well as a strong promoter of the other Healthy Monday campaigns. Through the work of umbrella group Healthy Monday Syracuse, awareness of Meatless Monday among students at Syracuse University has risen from 59 percent in spring 2012 to 94 percent this semester.
In the Syracuse community at large, Healthy Monday Syracuse has a new partnership with the YMCA. “The series of Meatless Monday recipe tastings over the past two months at the city’s North Area Family Y and the Meatless Monday concept have been extremely popular,” says Healthy Monday Syracuse’s Rebecca Bostwick.
The above examples are just some of the ways to get people excited about and engaged with Meatless Monday. Want to make your town the next Meatless Monday community? Get started now with these tips.