New Yorkers Rally to Support Meatless Monday Resolution

Despite freezing temperatures, a crowd of public health, environmental, and animal rights advocates rallied on the steps of New York’s City Hall this past Thursday to support the Meatless Monday Resolution being introduced by Council Members Helen Rosenthal and Corey Johnson, chair of the Health Committee. The resolution would bring awareness to efforts already underway in restaurants, schools, and cafeterias across the city to provide meat-free meals on Mondays, and it would call for a city-wide expansion of those efforts.

“I’m so excited to be introducing a resolution today calling on the City of New York to declare Mondays ‘Meatless Mondays,’ said Council Member Rosenthal. “Meatless Monday is a national and international campaign that encourages people to enjoy meat-free meals on Mondays to improve their personal health and the health of the planet.” She expressed her hope that the resolution would quickly pass through the City Council and arrive on the mayor’s desk surrounded by a variety of healthy veggie treats.

Approximately 40 schools in New York City already participate in Meatless Monday, including public, private and charter schools at all grade levels. New York City colleges and universities have also participated in Meatless Monday, including Barnard College, Brooklyn Law School, Columbia University, Fordham University, LaGuardia Community College and Manhattan College.

“It’s wonderful that New York City plans to join Los Angeles, Philadelphia and other major cities in the U.S. and 36 countries by introducing the Meatless Monday resolution,”

said Sid Lerner, found of the Meatless Monday Movement, and chairman of  The Monday Campaigns.  “What perfect timing to introduce Meatless Monday with the new year, when many people are thinking of improving their diets.”

Peggy Neu, President of The Monday Campaigns, also attended the rally and addressed the crowd. “It’s only fitting that the city where Meatless Monday was born should adopt such a resolution.”  She noted the important role played by the academic partners – Columbia, Johns Hopkins, and Syracuse – and how their research continues to yield new insights into the power of Mondays to improve public health.

Many New York chefs and restaurateurs have promoted Meatless Monday over the years including John Fraser (Dovetail and Narcissa), Marisa May (SD26), Jason Weiner (Almond), and Bill Telepan (Telepan.)

Chef Telepan was on hand and spoke about how Meatless Monday encourages more variety in people’s diets. “Through my career as a chef, and especially my work with Wellness in the Schools, I’ve seen the impact of how encouraging the consumption of real foods, stripped of processed ingredients, can help combat the epidemic of obesity and improve long-term health outcomes.”

Mia MacDonald, executive director of Brighter Green, a New York-based action tank, offered a global perspective on the perils of exporting a meat-heavy American diet to countries like China, India, and Brazil. “It is great to see New York, the most global of cities, joining the growing national and international movement for more sustainable, humane food systems and ways of eating.”

Friends of Meatless Monday shared their support from all over the world, including Paul, Mary, and Stella McCartney, founders of Meat Free Monday.  “Great to hear that New York City officials are considering introducing Meatless Monday! It’s such an easy and enjoyable way to reduce our carbon footprint and improve our health. If the resolution passes, we look forward to seeing what delicious and creative meat free options chefs come up with on Mondays in this amazing city!”

Council Member Rosenthal was optimistic about the City Council passing the resolution and sees a bright future for Meatless Monday.  “As goes New York City, so goes the nation!”

Watch a short video of Council Member Rosenthal speaking at the rally.