By Sharon Seltzer on Care2.com
When school started in September, the Baltimore School District became
the first in the country to adopt a Meatless Monday policy. That decision
has landed the administrators and their 80,000 students’ right in the middle
of a heated controversy.
The Meatless Monday campaign is an international movement that asks
people to cut out meat from their diet, one day a week. According to their
website it is a non-profit organization whose goal is to reduce the amount
of meat eaten by 15% in order to improve personal health and the health of
the planet. The movement is promoted by celebrities such as Paul McCartney
and medical institutions such as the John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public
And that is what representatives from Meatless Monday told Mellissa
Mahoney, Chef and Dietician for Baltimore schools and Food Services
Director, Tony Geraci when they met over the summer. Both administrators
were impressed with the program and its credentials and agreed to take part.
What they didn’t know, at the time, was that Meatless Monday is also
endorsed by PETA. And that missing piece of information has led to critics
such as J. Patrick Boyle, president and CEO of the American Meat Institute
to urge the school district to drop the program. He believes the campaign is
a way for animal activists to brainwash young children.
In a letter to Andres A. Alonso, CEO of the school district, Boyle wrote,
“I was disturbed to read about your school system’s decision to bow to an
animal rights organization in holding “Meat Free Mondays.” This initiative
is sponsored by the Grace Spira Project at the John Hopkins Bloomberg School
of Public Health. The name Spira refers to Henry Spira, who is widely
regarded as of the most extreme animal rights activists in the 20th
Lucky for the kids in Baltimore, school administrators have not “bowed”
down to Mr. Boyle. So from first grade through high school the lunch menu on
Mondays consist of items such as meatless lasagna or a cheese sandwich and a
bowl of mixed vegetables or broccoli.
Mahoney told CNSNews.com that the new menu has had a positive response
from most staff and students. She said, “It’s not the ultimate goal to
convert all Baltimorians to being vegans or vegetarians. What we want to do
is at the least start the discussion about what you eat and how that affects
the community, how that affects the planet, how it affects your health in
Hopefully the school district will also start a discussion about the
number of farm animals that can be saved with Meatless Monday. According to
GoVeg.com if one person eats a vegetarian diet for one year, it will save
the lives of 100 animals.
The original idea for Meatless Monday came about as a war effort to
conserve resources during WW I and it turned out to have a tremendous
beneficial effect saving the lives of animals.
Ten million families, 7,000 hotels and 425,000 food dealers pledged to
remove meat from their menus on Mondays. In November 1917, New York City
hotels saved nearly 116 tons of meat in just one week. According to a 1929
Saturday Evening Post article, “Americans began to look seriously into the
question of what and how much they were eating. Lots of people discovered
for the first time that they could eat less and feel no worse – frequently
for the better.”