Meatless Monday is gaining ground in Israel. Spurred by the tireless efforts of former news anchor Miki Haimovich, who launched the program there in 2012, the initiative enjoys greater visibility and has prompted more discussion than ever before.
A year after founding Meatless Monday in Israel, Haimovich met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife Sarah at their official residence in Jerusalem to persuade them of the program’s validity. Citing the physical and environmental implications of the dangerous trend towards meat-based diets, Haimovich convinced the PM that Meatless Monday offers a viable path to better health and sustainability.
But Haimovich didn’t stop there. She went on to present the campaign in the Knesset, Israel’s national legislature, which will meet later this year to discuss whether to incorporate Meatless Monday into their cafeteria.
Haimovish emphasized that the purpose of the campaign was not to remove meat as an option, but rather to supplement the menu with worthy vegetarian alternatives.
Reflecting on her many successes, Haimovich expressed gratitude:
“A year after the launch of the campaign in Israel, I feel that the initiative received a significant boost. We were able to connect the lobby ministers and Knesset members from across the entire political spectrum. I am happy to be behind the mobilization and commitment to the environmental, health and moral significance behind the campaign to reduce meat consumption. This is a happy day for me and for all those who support the initiative.”
This marks the first time a head of state has officially adopted the program.
Read more via the Jerusalem Post.
Winter is not a season of hibernation. It is a time of discovery, of variety, of traditional flavors and culinary surprises. Winter is a season, as Alicia Walter of La Scuola at Eataly says, “to buy whatever you don’t recognize.” And the best place to buy them, even in winter, is at your local farmers’ market.
So with heirloom tomatoes gone for the season and months from the first peas of spring, on a brisk November afternoon, Meatless Monday’s Registered Dietitian, Diana Rice, along with Creative Director Brian Wheeler, headed to the Union Square Greenmarket to see what local, hearty produce we all can be cooking for the next couple months. To our surprise, alongside the familiar lettuces and dozens of apple varieties, there were potatoes the size of softballs, squid-shaped salsify, and a rainbow of squash, chard and cauliflower.
Brian Wheeler: Okay, as we come into the market, I’m seeing a lot of Brussels sprouts here today. Which I love.
Diana Rice: Me too! But I only developed a taste for them recently. I’d only had them steamed, and steamed Brussels sprouts can be mushy. My favorite way to prepare them is to cut them in half, sauté them cut side down in a little olive oil until they begin to brown and add a splash of balsamic vinegar at the end.
DR: Mainly in that they’re so appealing, you’re likely to eat even more of them. I can’t wait to try them in this Roasted Rainbow Carrots with Maple-Mustard Glaze recipe. The different colors occur due to varying levels of pigmented nutrients that are of course very good for us, but that’s no reason to snub the orange variety. Just like the others, it’s full of nutrients that promote eye health, beta-carotene and lutein.
DR: This is new to me, too. I’ve only encountered lamb’s quarters as a pesky weed I have to rip from my garden all the time. I didn’t know you could eat them. I bet they would be a great addition to a vegetable noodle soup.
BW: And here, on the same table with broccoli and cauliflower, the Romanesco sort of steals the show. What should we know about this great looking veggie?
DR: Isn’t it intriguing? For any math nerds out there, Romanesco is an example of a naturally occurring Fibonacci spiral. But if you’re more interested in its taste, you can expect a sort of crunchier cauliflower. It’s great roasted. I’m planning to try it in this pasta recipe.
BW: Let’s talk about winter foods in general. If we buy turnips, parsnips, even beets, what are we getting that maybe we’re not getting in the summer?
DR: Most of the items we think of as summer vegetables, like tomatoes, zucchini and eggplant, are actually fruits. They typically have a higher water content than winter options. Winter root vegetables are higher in starch and naturally occurring sugar, which provides energy that the plant would use to get through the winter, if we didn’t harvest it. They’re a great source of complex carbohydrates.
BW: I think every school kid should take a field trip to a market and see these vegetables. Broccoli and Brussels sprouts on the stems. Potatoes larger than your hands. The variety is more surprising than in summer months.
DR: I love that visiting a farmers’ market gives you a chance to learn a little more about how your food grows, and it’s such a great educational experience for children. I bet any kid who has ever been turned off by a plate of Brussels sprouts might be willing to give them a second shot if they got to help pull the little sprouts off these alien-looking arms! And for the parents, cook them up in this sweet Cranberry Balsamic Brussels Sprouts dish.
BW: You would think the colors of winter food would resemble the drabness of the weather. But everywhere I turn I see red and orange, vibrant greens and deep purples. What relationship does color have to health?
DR: I mentioned that most of the nutrients that are so good for us are pigments. Beta-carotene is orange, vitamin K is dark green, many antioxidants are blue or purple. Most of the “drab” foods that come to mind have actually had their most nutritious parts removed! White rice is missing the nutritious golden grain. Sugar is refined to remove the dark, rich molasses that contains so many minerals. There’s one caveat: some nutritious pigments–anthoxanthins–are actually white, like those found in cauliflower, garlic and turnips.
BW: Obviously, we’re lucky to have a Union Square Greenmarket within walking distance.
DR: Sure. But I rely more on my neighborhood farmers’ market because it’s so convenient for where I live, and I find great variety there. Check out the Eat Well Guide if you’re looking for a market in your area. Or consider joining a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture). Many offer winter shares and will deliver or arrange for you to pick up a box of locally-grown produce every few weeks. Being a CSA member is how I learned to cook most of these unusual items. I might have been too intimidated to pick them up on my own!
BW: So now that we have all these great winter veggies, what should we make?
DR: I have just the recipe – this Roasted Winter Veggie Bowl from one of our RD bloggers, Maria of Bean A Foodie. It calls for almost everything we saw today, but it’s totally flexible to whatever winter produce you happen to find. Plus, serving the veggies over whole grains and beans is a great way to incorporate some meatless protein into the meal!
“Today, I’m taking my Meatless Monday inspiration from Indian cuisine. In my travels to this fascinating country, I’ve learned to appreciate its great and exciting variety of regional cuisines. When I’m in the Indian food state of mind, I like to explore the differences in North and South Indian cooking…” read more
“This is debatable, but I think eggs fit in the vegetarian diet. And this dish from America’s Test Kitchen is an easy way to get a lot of protein in your day, carnivore or not. And they look so cute!…” read more
“With the holiday season upon us, your mind is likely elsewhere at this very moment, consumed with last-minute gift purchases, frequent runs to the grocery store and the requisite home organization to prepare for out-of-town guests. But no matter how long your holiday to-do list may be, the question of tonight’s dinner remains, and on nights like these, only one kind of meal will fit the bill: fast… read more
“For simple-dish ideas that come together in 25 minutes or less, you can’t beat these fall-themed salads, perfect for a weeknight or holiday dinner, served as a first course, light main or hearty side. They’re just a few of the many vegetarian options available in our new recipe database…” read more
“Many of us know Meatless Monday as a global movement whose goal is to reduce the prevalence of preventable diseases—diabetes, heart disease, obesity—associated with excessive meat consumption. It’s a simple notion: skip meat one day a week and your your body will thank you for it.
But many might not realize Meatless Monday, in fact, dates back to the first World War, when the U.S. Food Administration urged families to reduce consumption of key staples as a means of aiding the country’s war efforts…” read more
For everyone interested in lowering their consumption of meat, there’s a new food pyramid to tape to your refrigerator. And from the bottom to the top, the advice couldn’t be simpler: Eat these foods every day.
Unlike other recommendations that say eat “50% of this” or “25% of that,” the Oldways Vegetarian & Vegan Diet Pyramid offers an abundance of colorful, delicious, healthy foods you’ll want to eat every Meatless Monday: fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes, herbs, spices and, for vegetarians, eggs and dairy.
“The old ways of eating around the world focus on food from plants,” explains Sara Baer-Sinnott, the President of Oldways. “The Mediterranean, Asian, Latin American, and African Heritage diets all have plant foods as the foundation of healthy eating. Therefore, food from plants are at the center of the plate.”
The good news is, this “old way” of eating is new again, reflected by the national trend towards plant-based diets, farmers’ markets, and a reduction in the consumption of meat. “Interest in following a plant-based diet is at an all time high, whether people pack their plates with vegetables once a day, once a week, or all their lives,” says Baer-Sinnott.
The first Vegetarian Diet Pyramid produced by Oldways, a nonprofit food and nutrition education organization, was created in 1997. “Today there is more scientific evidence for the health benefits of plant-based eating,” Baer-Sinnott explained. “And with growing awareness about this lifestyle, we knew it was really important to update the 1997 version.”
To produce the new Vegetarian Pyramid, Oldways gathered a world-renowned scientific committee to review extensive data on plant-based diets and provide recommendations. Complementing the pyramid is a printable Vegetarian/Vegan Diet brochure that fully explains all the delicious options available on the pyramid and the proven benefits of switching to a plant-based diet. What can everyone who has taken the Meatless Monday pledge do with this new information? “Cook!,” laughs Baer-Sinnott.
“Try cooking more plants. Put plants at the center of the plate a few times a week, and on Monday, of course. It’s not difficult, it’s affordable, and it tastes great.”
With an emphasis on cooking together, staying active, and eating everything from fresh vegetables to ancient grains, the Vegetarian Pyramid is a plan for good health that anyone can follow. “I am excited about the positive changes being made in the last 5-10 years, and am optimistic about the future for healthy eating,” says Baer-Sinnott. “With movements like Meatless Monday and the increased awareness about plant-based diets I feel that we are on a better track than 10-15 years ago. The evidence of so many more people going to farmers’ markets, as well as the variety of foods from around the world that people are willing to try, gives me hope that people will keep cooking more and make healthy eating a priority for themselves and their families.”
Southern California’s Oak Park Unified School District has a lot to celebrate. In August it was awarded a Green Ribbon by the Department of Education, which recognizes outstanding programs in student health and environmental sustainability. It has forged a new community partnership with the Four Seasons Wellness Center, whose food truck regularly provides tasty and nutritious offerings. It makes an effort to ethically source its meats, and ensures at least two veggie options every day.
And, most importantly, the students are loving it.
What began as an idea seeded by the Meatless Monday campaign has flowered into a mission of impressive size and scope, encompassing eight schools in Ventura County. Oak Park now boasts organic gardens at several of its schools, enabling their cafeterias to serve the harvested produce. It has also established a new curriculum that unites its various initiatives under a single theme: “Making peace with the natural world.”
For Oak Park, peace begins on a plate, and Meatless Monday was the ideal vehicle for that philosophy. Superintendent Dr. Tony Knight elaborated:
“It is very important because it is raising awareness in a variety of areas – the impact on the environment, our health, and humanity towards animals.”
Spurred by these many successes, Oak Park continues to innovate. Its commitment to student health and environmental stewardship provides a model worth emulating.
Want to bring Meatless Monday to your school? Get started with simple ideas for engaging students, staff and parents here.
The Norwegian Army sponsored its first Meatless Monday last week, citing its commitment to environmental sustainability as the impetus for the experiment. The program debuted at the Rena military base, outside of Oslo. Army chiefs estimate that as many as 330,000 pounds of meat can be cut if the plan is extended to all.