San Diego is leading the Meatless Monday charge in Southern California, incorporating the program into its schools, restaurants and homes with palpable gusto according to a recent article in the San Diego Union Tribune.
In September, the San Diego Unified School District adopted Meatless Monday in its elementary schools, serving meatless meals to students in grades K-5. “We decided on K-5 because young children are learning lifelong eating habits,” said Gary Petill, director of the district’s food services. Making a menu of meatless dishes attractive to children can be a unique challenge, Petill acknowledges. The district sets strict nutritional guidelines, and then there’s the tricky matter of overcoming the kids’ aversion to all things “healthy.” But the rewards of teaching the value of meatless meals to impressionable youngsters are obvious. “[W]hen the fifth graders go to middle school, they may be more open to vegetarian options,” Petill said.
A few miles away, Stone Brewing Company, which has a critically lauded restaurant at its headquarters, is introducing Meatless Monday to a very different clientele.
“We’ve been doing Meatless Monday since the bistro opened, in 2007/2008. And Meatless Monday is all about offering fresh, quality ingredients to an audience that may not have normally ordered nontraditional proteins,” said Steve Robbins, Stone Brewing’s Director of Hospitality.
Stone uses popular vegan products like tempeh and tofu to mimic the mouthfeel of meat while imparting a healthy spin to its animal-based alternatives. And it seems to be working. “We have a lot of repeat guests for Meatless Monday — response has been good out there,” said Robbins. Stone shared several recipes with the San Diego Union Tribune in their Meatless Monday feature.
San Diego’s exciting leaps forward prove that Meatless Monday can be embraced by consumers of all ages and food service providers of all types. With so many developments within the decade, it can look forward to a healthy and happy culinary future.