The Meatless Mondays movement gained traction as a means of bettering the health of both the planet and the individual. And the nation’s largest city wants in. On Monday, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that New York City will introduce the hashtag-able campaign to 1.1 million students attending public schools throughout the five boroughs with its “Free School Lunch for All” program.
First launched in early 2018 with 15 schools participating in Brooklyn, Mayor de Blasio expressed confidence in wider success of the program. “Meatless Mondays are good for our students, communities, and the environment,” said de Blasio at a press conference. “We’re expanding Meatless Mondays to all public schools to keep our lunch and planet green for generations to come.” So long, sausage. Farewell, suspicious cafeteria “meatloaf.” Fully vegetarian Meatless Monday menus for breakfast and lunch debut at all NYC public schools this fall. (Fun fact: The term “Meatless Monday” dates back to World War I, when the U.S. Food Administration encouraged rationing of food, along with “Wheatless Wednesdays.”)
“It’s noteworthy to point out that if New York City public schools swapped out a beef burger for a plant-based protein once a month, the city would emit 375,000 pounds less of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere per year.” —Andrea Strong, founder of the NYC Healthy School Food Alliance
Researchers estimate that agricultural production contributes to about 13 percent of worldwide greenhouse gases. “It’s noteworthy to point out that if New York City public schools swapped out a beef burger for a plant-based protein once a month, the city would emit 375,000 pounds less of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere per year,” says Andrea Strong, founder of the NYC Healthy School Food Alliance. All it takes is a little mental math to understand that making a patty swap as few as four times each month—as NYC schools soon will—would limit our carbon dioxide emissions by 1,500,000 pounds. Now, if we encourage every school in the country to do the same, we might just have a revolution on our hands.
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