On November 13, Tony Cárdenas, Representative of California’s 29th Congressional District and fan of Meatless Monday, wrote an editorial piece for the Los Angeles Daily News asking all Californians to do their part to conserve water during the record drought. “We can’t create the rain, but we can take actions in our everyday lives to create a meaningful impact on reducing water usage.” One of those actions was to consider the water resources that go into producing different foods when planning meals.
Representative Cárdenas cited U.S. Department of the Interior statistics about the staggering amount of water resources needed to produce one pound of chicken (400 gallons) or a pound of beef (1,800 gallons.) He compared those amounts with figures from the Water Footprint Network of the water needed to produce a pound of tomatoes (26 gallons) or a loaf of wheat bread (220 gallons.)
“I am talking about making a conscious decision to compare the large amount of water it takes to produce that steak or pork chop you’re eating, with the likely smaller amount of water needed to produce delicious meatless options. In that spirit my staff and I have taken on the Meatless Monday Challenge. Taking off one day a week from eating meat is a small way to cut down our water use and consumption while reducing our water footprint.”
Representative Cárdenas also brought up how going meatless one day a week is good for the environment, helping to combat global warming. “With the drought and global warming creating such high stakes in our state, all Californians must do their part to examine their personal water usage and cut wherever possible.”
From suggestions like turning off the tap while brushing teeth to taking a day off from eating meat, he emphasized that these small steps can really add up. “We all have the tools to make a difference. Sometimes, they are disguised as forks and knives. Let’s put them to good use.”
The American Public Health Association (APHA) Annual Meeting & Exposition gathers in New Orleans this year. From November 15–19, health specialists from across the country convene to exchange knowledge and network to strengthen the profession of public health.
The Monday Campaigns, represented by Rachelle Reeder, MPH and Morgan Johnson, MPH will reveal two poster-presentations on the best practices of marketing public health and how to build a global community around a public health initiative.
Marketing and advertising have long been the exclusive bedfellows of consumerism, but Morgan and Rachelle aim to show the public health field how to leverage the tools of marketing and advertising to help effect widespread and sustainable change.
It’s appropriate that Tulane University, an early adopter of the Meatless Monday program, is hosting the conference. At the Meatless Monday booth attendees will find a wealth of information about the various Monday Campaigns initiatives. Also, it’s rumored that there will be a selfie-opportunity with a Meatless Monday pig in Mardi Gras regalia—this just might be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
A new study suggests that despite strong scientific evidence indicating meat consumption is among the most important contributors to climate change, most non-governmental organizations (NGOs) did not consider addressing this issue as a core part of their mission.
After interviewing representatives from 34 environmental, food-focused, and animal protection NGOs in Sweden, Canada, and the US, Linnea Laestadius, PhD, and colleagues found that the scientific evidence related to meat consumption’s impact on climate change was not enough to prompt targeted meat reduction campaigns.
Most importantly, while the majority of participants saw this issue as part of their overarching missions and certainly important, they didn’t consider it central to their goals. Additionally, many perceived meat consumption as a concern related to individual behavior, and saw individual behavior change as strategically challenging for their organizations.
According to the research, other concerns include: the perceived ineffectiveness of campaigns targeting individual behaviors; alienating members of the public and agricultural partners; limited political and public interest in climate change altogether; existing engagement in other aspects of the issue; and limited resources.
“The study found a gap in the ownership of this issue, with food-focused and animal welfare groups placing responsibility for addressing climate change on environmental groups, and environmental groups reluctant to take resources away from addressing other areas related to climate change, such as energy policy,” said Roni Neff, PhD, co-author of the paper and director of the Food System Sustainability and Public Health program at the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future. “There is little debate about the enormous carbon footprint of our meat consumption habits. NGO engagement could be critical in building the policy and social shifts we need.”
The authors suggest, “Understanding the barriers will help us better support and encourage the NGO or NGOs ready to take on this issue.”
The results are featured in the journal Global Environmental Change.
Meatless Monday will join the rest of the world on Friday November 14, in observing World Diabetes Day. The theme chosen for this year is, “Healthy Living and Diabetes” which aligns strongly with the Meatless Monday mission.
According to the World Health Organization, 347 million worldwide suffer from diabetes. In the United States in 2012, 29.1 million Americans were estimated to have diabetes. That’s 9.3% of the US population. Another troubling part is, 8.1 million of those 29.1 million people went undiagnosed.
This year World Diabetes Day will focus their messaging on the importance of starting the day with a healthy breakfast, because making healthy choices at the start of the day increases the likelihood that you’ll make other healthy choices throughout the day.
The Monday Campaigns follow a similar strategy—research shows that on Monday people are more open to healthy considerations and the research also shows that when people start the week in a positive way (whether it be by exercising or eating right) they are more likely to make healthy choices throughout the week.
As an initiative that promotes public health, Meatless Monday will observe World Diabetes Day by trying to raise awareness of the role diet and exercise can play in addressing this disease. In addition, we are offering a number of delicious Meatless Monday recipes that are diabetic friendly.
Boston (Oct. 30, 2014) — Students at Boston Public Schools are finding more prominent placement of meatless dishes in their cafeterias on Mondays making Boston yet another city whose schools have embraced the Meatless Monday movement.
Deputy Director of the Boston Public Schools’ Department of Food and Nutrition Services, Deborah Ventricelli, said: “Offering students nutritious meals as part of the Meatless Monday programs allows us to meet the diverse needs of the families in our district while getting the week off to a healthy start. Now, every Monday, our students know they can look forward to a high-quality meatless option in addition to the choices they already have.”
Students are now filling their trays with black bean burrito bowls, garden fresh salads topped with chickpeas, protein-packed chili, and other delicious and nutritious entrees. More than 57,000 students are enrolled at Boston Public Schools, which comprises 128 schools.
While you might have thought the Happy Meal was the surest route to bliss, it turns out not to be the case.
According to a recent study from the University of Queensland in Australia, eating more fruits and vegetables means you might just be happier.
The majority of studies examine happiness in socio-economic terms, whereas this study adds to the growing bank of support that diet influences one’s sense of well-being.
The author of the study, Redzo Mujcic, began measuring the dietary choices and well-being assessments of over 12,000 adult participants. Specifically the study asks three main questions:
Is there an empirical relationship between the consumption of fruit and vegetables and self-reported measures of mental and physical well-being?
Does the intake of fruit and vegetables have separate/independent effects on people’s well-being, and are these effects more profound in some health outcomes than others?
What is the optimal fruit and vegetable consumption bundle (amount and mix), and does this basket vary across the different measures of well-being?
In the words of the author, “I find evidence of a significant positive relationship between the consumption of fruit and vegetables and higher levels of subjective well-being.”
The findings reveal that in terms of happiness the usual recommendation of 5 a day (fruits and vegetables) falls short. The study recommends 4 – 5 portions of fruit and 4 – 5 portions of vegetables a day for happiness.
The study also points to a difference in genders: women might be able to achieve fruit-and-vegetable nirvana more easily than men. But this in no way contradicts the old adage “the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.”
This Monday consider adding more fruits and vegetables to your diet—you might be adding happiness.
Dr. Robert Graham, Director of Integrative Health & Therapies at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York, brought a fresh crop of medical residents to the Natural Gourmet Institute to teach them the fine art of cooking healthy, delicious—and meatless—meals.
It’s a form of preventative medicine that can only be administered in the kitchen.
Dr. Robert Graham wants to ignite the next generation of doctors to eat healthy and live healthy. And to help, Chef Instructor Elliott Prag—who is a regular contributor to Vegetarian Times—was there.
It’s part of a program called FareWellness, which is an initiative developed by Dr. Graham and Julie Graham, his wife. The program encourages not only healthy eating but also physical exercise and mental wellbeing through activities like yoga and meditation.
The hope is that through the FareWellness Program, not only will hospital doctors and staff reap the benefits of maintaining a healthy lifestyle but they will also inspire their patients to taking steps toward bettering their own health through paying more attention to diet and exercise.
Since its start in 1977, NGI has been inspiring people to realize good health through delicious food. This partnership with Lenox Hill Hospital brings their expertise to the medical community by giving doctors the tools to bring healthful cooking to their patients.
“We are honored to continue our partnership with Dr. Graham and Lenox Hill Hospital,” says Anthony Fassio, CEO Natural Gourmet Institute. “With each class a new group of doctors is empowered to teach their patients about how a health-supportive diet can contribute to optimum health.”
Last week, thousands of registered dietitians convened in Atlanta for the annual Food and Nutrition Conference and Expo held by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Meatless Monday’s resident RD Diana Rice was in attendance and reports that the topic of plant-based eating was trendier than ever.
The conference kicked off with an educational session on the role of plant protein in disease prevention by renowned diet and lifestyle researchers Dr. Frank Hu of Harvard and Dr. Penny Kris-Etherton of Penn State. Our good friend Sharon Palmer later moderated a session on the latest research on the value of vegetarian and vegan diets, where Dr. Joan Sabate of Loma Linda University and Virginia Messina, RD (author of Vegan for Her) were featured speakers.
Plant-based eating was also a hot topic on the Expo floor. Sharon Palmer conducted a free signing of her book Plant Powered for Life at the booth of our friends at Tomato Wellness and Meatless Monday supporter Marcus Samuelsson made an appearance at the Canadian Lentils exhibit.
Registered dietitians also snapped up samples of plant-based dishes such as vegetarian chili from JTM Foods and vegan breakfast sausage from our friends at Neat. “It is extremely encouraging for us to observe the tremendous response that our line of innovative, all natural vegetarian foods received from registered dietitians and other professionals in the food and nutrition industry,” said Phil Lapp, Neat’s co-founder and CEO.
And because you won’t meet a crowd of professionals more enthusiast about fruit and vegetable consumption, dietitians flocked to the conference’s selfie stations, where they could declare their love for plant foods to the world (or at least, to their Twitter followers).
This month, Dr. Bob Lawrence, director of the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future (CLF) and an early champion of Meatless Monday, was honored at a symposium at the Bloomberg School of Public Health. He will be stepping down as CLF director after more than 18 years. As an emeritus faculty member, he will continue to teach, advise students, and work on food system problems.
Dr. Lawrence founded CLF in April 1996, with a mission to promote research and education about industrial food animal production or factory farming. CLF communicates information about diet, food production, the environment, and human health. As director, Dr. Lawrence ensured that CLF was not a mere think tank or an ivory tower, but a scientific resource for advocates seeking to reform the food system. CLF works with various communities, from policymakers at all levels, to urban and rural farmers, to low-income food shoppers. CLF provides technical assistance to and serves as the scientific advisor to the Meatless Monday campaign.
“To me,” said Dr. Lawrence, “a livable future is when the resources available to support a healthy ecosystem are in balance with the resources needed by current and future generations. I’m driven by the concept of intergenerational equity-that our grandchildren and their grandchildren will have an opportunity for a decent life. That’s going to mean dealing with everything from population pressure to climate change, inequitable income distributions, and alternatives to nonrenewable resources. That’s a tall order and a very lofty mountain that we’re all trying to climb, but the other options are really unthinkable.”
Throughout Dr. Lawrence’s distinguished career, he has served as a physician, an officer with the Epidemic Intelligence Service at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an associate dean at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, and a co-founder of Physicians for Human Rights, which shared the 1997 Nobel Peace Prize for its work to ban landmines.
The Monday Campaigns will continue to work with CLF to promote initiatives that aim to create awareness around public health.
Much of the research that supports our work comes from the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future. So, from all of us here at the Monday Campaigns to our colleague and friend, thank you and best of luck as you start this new chapter.
Food Day is a nationwide celebration of healthy, affordable, and sustainably produced food. This year it will kick off with Meatless Monday on October 20th. Food Day is officially Friday, October 24th, but people will be celebrating all week throughout the United States. The grassroots organization estimates there will be over 7,500 events this week, from Meatless Monday gatherings to events celebrating locally sourced food.
Food Day aims to help people “Eat Real.” That means, to prefer whole foods—like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains—over processed foods, and to choose foods that are raised in a sustainable manner.
The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), a nonprofit consumer health advocacy organization, established Food Day to promote united by a vision of food that is healthy, affordable, and produced with care for the environment. CSPI focuses on the link between nutrition and health and on food safety. The organization—founded in 1971—is a key player in fighting obesity, cardiovascular disease, and other diet-related health problems, using tactics ranging from education to legislation to litigation.
CSPI has won a number of victories such as adding nutritional labels to fast food chain restaurant items, and ensuring that calling “low-fat” or “heart healthy” are descriptors that can only be used when the food items meet specific requirements established by the Food and Drug Administration.
You can find a local Food Day event here. Happy eating!