New York City Mayor Announces Meatless Monday School Program to Tackle Climate Change and Obesity

This week, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that 15 public schools will offer Meatless Monday as part of a pilot program, with the potential to expand throughout the school system. Every Monday, students in the pilot will enjoy breakfast and lunch menus featuring meatless meals. De Blasio also added a personal commitment to start the practice at Gracie Mansion, his official residence “…we are now going to be instituting Meatless Mondays as well…We’re starting a new habit and I’m looking forward to it.”

New York joins a growing group of cities that are reducing meat consumption, with recent Meatless Monday proclamations issued in Pittsburgh, Sacramento, and Vancouver, B.C. Global leaders, including Argentinian President Mauricio Macri and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, have also committed to practicing Meatless Monday.

“Cutting back a little on meat will help make our city healthier and our planet stronger for generations to come,” said de Blasio. He added that both the obesity and climate change crises can be meaningfully addressed by adopting a more plant-based diet.

According to research from the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future, scientific adviser to the Meatless Monday campaign, livestock production is a major driver of climate change, contributing to nearly 15 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. Based on predictions, if upward trends of meat and dairy consumption continue, global mean temperature rise will more than likely exceed 2 degrees Celsius, the level that scientists agree we must stay below to avoid the most catastrophic climate change scenarios.

In addition to reducing climate impact, diets that favor plant-based instead of animal protein can lower the risk of chronic preventable diseases like cancer, heart disease, type 2 diabetes and obesity.

Sid Lerner, founder of The Monday Campaigns and the Meatless Monday movement, said, “We’re thrilled that NYC schools will participate in Meatless Monday to introduce kids to delicious plant-based options that can create healthy eating habits for life. Congratulations to the mayor for his leadership in taking Meatless Monday into the future, for our health and the health of the planet.”

The Meatless Monday movement has been integrated into schools, restaurants, hospitals, college campuses, corporations, and communities. Free resources to start Meatless Monday are at www.meatlessmonday.com/start-a-campaign.

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