Celebrating Meatless Monday Around the World

We celebrate Meatless Monday here at MarcusSamuelsson.com by posting tasty vegetarian and vegan recipes. But did you know that the Meatless Monday is actually a global movement to increase public health and environmental awareness? Learn more about the history and development of the movement!

The modern Meatless Monday movement was created in association with the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in 2003 as an initiative to help Americans reduce their risk of preventative diseases by eating less saturated fat. However, the original Meatless Monday was part of a campaign to aid the war effort during World War I by encouraging Americans to ration food by cutting down on staples like meat. The campaign returned during WWII, re-instated by Presidents Roosevelt and Truman to help feed war-torn Europe.

Nowadays, the Meatless Monday isn't about rationing for the war effort. It's about encouraging consumption of healthy foods like fruits and vegetables and reducing intake of red meat, which is associated with certain cancers, obesity, and heart disease. It's also about promoting awareness of the environmental effects of eating meat.

It's estimated that one-fifth of all man-made greenhouse gas emission comes from the meat industry. Reducing meat consumption can help combat these greenhouse gases, as well as save on water and fossil fuel expenditure.

So far, the Meatless movement has grown to include countries from all around the world. Here are some examples of how communities are embracing the project:

- Paris, France - In the 2nd arrondissement of Paris, public schools observe mardis vegetariens, or meatless Tuesdays, and serve only vegetarian meals on Tuesdays. - Ghent, Belgium - Thursdays are Veggiedag, or Meatless Days, in the town of Ghent as officially declared by their mayor in 2009. - Tel Aviv, Israel - In 2009, the University of Tel Aviv joined a growing number of universities worldwide in encouraging Meatless Monday on campus, providing students with special vegetarian dining options on Mondays.

Want to start your own Meatless Monday tradition? Fresh asparagus is in season - why not give some delicious asparagus lasagna a try? If you're hosting a summer party, here's a list of some great meat-free dishes that are definitely crowd-pleasers. Another great meatless summer recipe is this homestyle veggie chili.

You can also learn more about the Meatless Monday movement here.

Photo Credit: Lindsay Hunt