Bedford, NY Pledges to Go Meatless Monday to Fight Climate Change

A small but dedicated group can make a big difference in the fight against climate change; and that’s exactly what the community of Bedford, New York proved when they took on the Bedford 2020 Meatless Monday pledge and challenge. Meatless Monday collaborated with the Bedford 2020 organization to bring attention to the impact that meat production has on the environment and personal health. The goals of the 12-week program were to educate the residents and reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the community 20% by the year 2020.

But communicating the consequences of climate change isn’t so simple, which is why Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future (CLF) and the team from Meatless Monday, helped develop a collection of science-based and promotional materials to make these issues relevant to everyday life.

Producing a 1/4 Burger Uses Enough H2O to Fill 10 BathtubsSpecially designed creative materials highlighting the environmental benefits of Meatless Monday and meat reduction were delivered through different communication channels, with a lot of the distribution effort being done by members of the Bedford community. The Bedford 2020 organization was a key driver in getting volunteers engaged and training them to promote Meatless Monday throughout their town and surrounding areas.  Social norming — encouraging friends, neighbors, and family to engage in a cause — motivated the whole community to get involved in the challenge. Restaurants offered new meatless options, while posters highlighting the carbon footprint of meat production were displayed in hospitals, cafeterias, and places of worship. A weekly email blast featuring plant-based recipes and cooking tips was also sent out anyone who subscribed.

Household surveys were taken before and after the challenge to see how well the message was received and put into practice. The campaign led to a reduced collective carbon footprint of 22,894.08 kg CO2 eq, the equivalent of driving 56,113 less miles. Six months after the conclusion of the campaign, surveys showed that frequency of meat consumption dropped. More respondents cited “I want to save energy and limit fuel dependence” and “I am concerned about the environment” as important reasons for eating less meat. Most importantly, nearly half of the survey respondents replied that they would continue to keep their commitment to going meatless on Monday. Bedford continues to be a shining example of what can be accomplished when people work together towards a cause.