Top restaurateurs shared their views on why Meatless Monday is good for the health of their business with NRN contributing writer Anita Jones-Mueller, president of Healthy Dining, a restaurant nutrition marketing and consulting company best known for its premier restaurant search engine HealthyDiningFinder.com. She interviewed John Fraser, executive chef and proprietor of New York City’s Dovetail, a three-year recipient of the Michelin star, and Marisa May, co-owner of SD26 at Madison Square Park, for her online column in Nation’s Restaurant News.
Fraser explained that his own diet and the need to build new business led to him to launch Meatless Monday at Dovetail. The campaign came to mind when he was starting to leave meat out of his own diet and also began focusing on his passion for local, seasonal produce. At the same time, he needed to attract new business on Mondays.
“We are located on the Upper West Side of [Manhattan], which gets slow in the summer. I was thinking about shutting the restaurant down for a few days each week over the summer … And so I started offering a selection of vegetarian specials every Monday. Pretty soon we were packed on Monday, and it was a completely different clientele — younger and savvy guests,” he said. “They loved the vegetarian choices, and they are a loyal following every Monday …. So it started as a more rogue, artful experiment and now has developed into a whole new market for us.”
Marisa May, co-owner of SD26 at Madison Square Park, recently joined the Meatless Monday campaign. “It is a natural for us. We are eco-friendly and believe in the health benefits of the Mediterranean diet. It’s our natural way of eating,” she said. “Many of our menu items offered all week long are meatless.”
May knew that many of her friends and fellow restaurateurs were participating in Meatless Monday. “We thought, ‘why not?’ We love the initiative.”
Jones-Mueller sees Meatless Monday participation by restaurants growing as plant-based lifestyles are gaining in popularity and acceptance due to interest in health, nutrition and sustainability. Plant-based eating styles range from Mediterranean and “flexitarian,” to vegetarian and vegan, to macrobiotic and anti-inflammatory diets. The major theme in most of these eating styles is reducing intake of trans and saturated fats by decreasing intake of red meat and processed foods.
Starting Meatless Monday in restaurants is easy. Restaurants don’t need to take meat off the menu or add anything special — just highlight the existing meat-free options and promote them to customers on Mondays.
Get more details in the Meatless Monday Restaurant Toolkit.