Meatless Monday Resolution Passes in Long Beach

June 8th, 2015


On June 2nd, The Long Beach City Council voted 7-2 in favor of a resolution officially supporting the Meatless Monday campaign. Long Beach joins Los Angeles, San Francisco, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C. and several other large American cities in supporting the international movement that aims to improve health and conserve resources.

The item was brought to the attention of Councilman Al Austin by one of his constituents, Drew Alexis. The Long Beach resident cited a 2010 UCLA study that showed over 40 percent of Long Beach children are obese and proposed that a more plant-based diet could help curb that number. Alexis also pointed out the numerous ecological benefits of eating less meat, including the amount of water saved by consuming less animal products, which is particularly relevant given the severe drought in Southern California.

Councilman Austin along with the supporter of the motion, Councilwoman Suzie Price, were careful to explain that the resolution was not a mandate, intended to force people to abstain from meat dishes on Mondays. Instead, they focused on the positive message that the Meatless Monday movement conveys.

“If even for one day a week people think about what they’re eating and consider trying new, healthier menu options, then this resolution will have accomplished its purpose,” Austin said.

Councilwoman Price has already begun Meatless Monday family dinners, explaining to her children that making smart choices at the beginning of the week can lead to more smart choices later in the week.

“This is just another opportunity to raise awareness within our city and to encourage our residents to think about their lifestyle, their welfare, their future health and really to take it as an opportunity to choose if they want to try something different on Mondays,” said Price. “Why not give it a shot?”

Councilman Daryl Supernaw and Councilwoman Stacy Mungo both voted against the proposal. Mungo brought up the negative impact the resolution could have on local restaurants. “I’ve had calls from some businesses, specifically that serve meat and steak and things like that, and it really contributes to the health of their business,” Mungo said.

Alexis countered by saying, “Monday is traditionally not a busy day for restaurants, thus a community-based campaign to promote meatless meals on Monday may serve as a very good business opportunity for many of our local restaurants .” But Mungo said she didn’t think it was the city’s place to make proclamations based on preferences, especially if it could hurt business.

“It is not a personal preference issue. It’s affecting everyone,” said a Long Beach woman, refuting Mungo. “It’s affecting the environment, it’s affecting the rainforest, top soil erosion, the drought.”

Perhaps the most persuasive speaker at the initial discussion of the resolution was a very articulate eight year old named Genesis Butler who Alexis brought with him. She wowed the council with her three minute message, building on Alexis’s point, stating that the water used to produce a pound of meat was equivalent to a few months of showering. She pointed to the historic drought that’s been gripping the state for nearly five years in urging the council to adopt the resolution. “Kids like me deserve a future where they won’t have to worry where they’re getting their water from,” Butler said.

Peggy Neu, president of The Monday Campaigns initiatives, sought to clarify the spirit of the movement in an interview on Tuesday. “It’s really all about choice and moderation. It’s not about making everyone vegans or vegetarians.”

Listen to Meatless Monday’s Director of Programs and Research Morgan Johnson’s interview on KNX-LA about Meatless Monday and this resolution.