On October 6th, over 8,000 health professionals and organizations gathered in Philadelphia for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ 2012 Food & Nutrition Conference (FNCE). Meatless Monday was on hand –along with supporters like Sodexo, Food Day, the Mushroom Council and Fresh Direct– to show nutritionists and dieticians that the campaign is an easy way to help clients stay healthy and eat more greens.
Recent research conducted by The Monday Campaigns and FGI found that simply knowing about Meatless Monday can help people make healthier choices. Of those who had heard of the movement, 36% said that Meatless Monday has influenced them to cut back or to consider cutting back on meat. This group also reported enjoying a range of healthy foods, with 73% saying they eat more vegetables, 64% eating more fruits, 42% eating more beans and 47% eating more whole grains.
In addition, 62 % of those influenced by Meatless Monday say they are working to incorporate meatless meals into their weekly routine. Half say they’ve experimented with new meatless recipes at home and 42% have tried more meatless meals when eating out.
Given that Meatless Monday can help people shift towards healthier habits at home and when dining out, it makes sense for dietitians and nutritionists to add the campaign to their list of strategies. Here are just some of the ways that health professionals can help clients start a Meatless Monday routine:
In private practice:
- Explain the wide range of benefits — Meatless Monday boosts not only individual health, but can also save money and help the environment. Options like rice, beans and tofu are not only affordable, they also require less water and fossil fuel to produce.
- Counsel clients on the wide range of nutrients found in plant-based foods and ease any concerns about the protein or iron content of meatless meals.
- Make Meatless Mondays simple by providing grocery lists and recipes that can be made quickly or prepared over the weekend.
- Introduce clients to plant-based dishes by suggesting meatless swaps and comforting, culturally appropriate vegetarian recipes. Share the Meatless Monday recipe database.
- Expand horizons by encouraging clients to try one new plant-based item each week, or to use Meatless Monday as an opportunity to sample dishes from other cultures.
- Encourage social media savvy clients to participate in the Meatless Monday movement and receive weekly reminders by following the campaign on Facebook and Twitter.
- Include Meatless Monday in your social media plan, blog or e-mail newsletter.
In dining services:
- Get clients involved and show them the wide range of benefits by having promotional posters and table tents in the cafeteria.
- Work directly with dining services to ensure that Meatless Monday meals are both healthful and tasty.
- Host a Q&A table in the cafeteria on Monday to answer nutrition questions and provide information. You can also set up a bulletin board or question drop box.
- Offer Monday reminders on the organization’s intranet service, or through weekly e-mails and newsletters.
- Encourage clients to bring Meatless Monday home! Provide family-friendly recipe ideas or weekend shopping reminders.
- Host a group cooking class or demonstration to highlight healthy meatless recipes and the benefits of plant-based eating.
- Engage the community by planning a challenge or event. Meatless Monday recipe contests, interdepartmental competitions, and office-wide potlucks can help clients become part of the larger movement.
Contact us for more tips and help getting started.