How a Small Town Became a Center of Plant-Based Eating

Major cities across the United States—Los Angeles, New York, Washington D.C., Philadelphia—have all made pledges to reduce their environmental footprint and promote healthy eating by adopting a form of Meatless Monday messaging. Through a combination of public awareness, grassroots campaigning, and economic incentives, dozens of municipalities have managed to bring greater attention to the importance of plant-based foods.

But you don’t need to be a big city to make a big impact on the health and wellness of your community.

In Needham, Massachusetts, a small suburb just outside of the city of Boston, a triumvirate of non-profit organizations decided to take matters into their own hands and start their own version of Meatless Monday. Together, The League of Women Voters of Needham, Green Needham Collaborative, and the Needham Community Farm launched a public awareness campaign to inspire people to decrease consumption of meat and eat more healthy plant-based meals.

As stated on their website, the goal of the campaign will be accomplished by encouraging people to take a pledge to eat healthy, plant-based meals on Mondays for a period of 12 weeks. 445 people have taken the pledge so far. These healthy eating habits offer substantial benefits both for human health and for the environment. The initiative started with a small pilot program, but after its initial success, the program was endorsed by the Needham Board of Health and launched town-wide.

“We are thrilled that over 400 individuals in the community have taken our Meatless Monday pledge to eat healthy plant-based meals on Mondays for 12 weeks and are keeping up with the program even after the pledge period is over. Building on our success, we are planning to reach out to schools and restaurants in the coming year,” said Karen Price, Director of The League of Women Voters of Needham.

And the initiative continues to be a success, growing in scope and function. Earlier this year, despite the disruptions caused by COVID-19, Meatless Monday Needham and local chef Dave Becker held “Meatless Monday with Dave Becker.” The event included a 3-course takeout meal from Juniper in Wellesley and a cooking class. 100 meals were picked up and 85 people joined the cooking class on Zoom, recorded on YouTube. The $75 fee included: a 3-course takeout meal for two, cooking class with Dave on Zoom, Dave Becker’s cookbook Stewed, and donation to the Needham Community Council Food Pantry.

Needham Meatless Monday continues to provide information and content to its followers. Their website includes tons of plant-based recipes, as well as resources and information related to how what we eat impacts our health and the health of the environment. If interested in creating your own Meatless Monday program in your community, reach out to the Meatless Monday team and get started today.