meatless Monday

The History of Meatless Mondays

Meatless Mondays is a popular campaign that urges people to avoid meat on Mondays. It’s a great way to kick-off the workweek with meals that are healthy, compassionate, and environmentally sustainable.

The US Food Administration (as it was then called, before expanding its oversight to include drugs) initiated a precursor to Meatless Mondays during World War I. To combat food shortages, the government promoted “Meatless Days” to reduce consumption of resource-intensive meat. The government even published vegetarian recipes and menus in magazines and newspapers.

In 2003, advertising guru Sid Lerner, the man behind the famous “Don’t Squeeze the Charmin” campaign, repackaged this concept for a new generation, renaming it Meatless Mondays. Johns Hopkins School of Public Health’s Center for a Livable Future embraced Lerner’s concept. The Humane Society of the United States likewise became a committed supporter.

Paul McCartney’s Meat-Free Mondays Campaign

In 2009, Paul McCartney started his own Meat-Free Mondays effort, promoting the concept at his concerts, and serving only vegetarian food at concessions stands. Oprah Winfrey later featured a vegan book by Kathy Freston on her television show, and implemented Meatless Mondays at her Harpo Studios employee cafeteria. And in 2012, Los Angeles public schools initiated Meatless Mondays at school cafeterias systemwide. Other U.S. school districts have since followed suit.

The Meatless Monday movement continues to spread, with a growing number of colleges, businesses, and individuals joining its ranks. Meatless Mondays offers many people their first direct experience with vegetarianism. According to the “foot in the door” principle, once someone is partially invested in vegetarian eating, they become much more likely to adopt vegetarian or vegan diets full-time.

The key to having an easy Meatless Monday is to go shopping beforehand. That way, you’ll have plenty of great foods to choose from during your meat-free day. With that in mind, check out our easy vegan foods page for all sorts of delicious vegetarian meal and snack ideas.

Related reading: please see our meat-free guide and our advice on how to go vegan.
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