For a powerful indication of what a commitment to Meat Free Monday can achieve, consider the results of a new study in the US that has shown the positive environmental benefits of introducing MFM at school.
Conducted by a Harvard University research fellow linked to MFM’s sister campaign in the States, Meatless Mondays, it found meat consumption had been significantly reduced in schools that had chosen to eat meat free one day a week.
Currently 263 American school districts are taking part in the campaign, including in Brooklyn, meaning meat is off the menu for one day out of five. According to the study that means almost 400 million vegetarian meals that would otherwise have included meat will have been served in the US between 2012 and 2017.
Over the five-year period, that has resulted in 600,000 tons of carbon dioxide being saved and harmful greenhouse gases equivalent to driving 1.4 billion miles being eliminated. Those figures are based on the emissions that would have been produced by animals destined to be dished up in school canteens, as well as those involved in raising them, feeding them and getting the meat to pupils’ plates.
The Humane Society of the United States champions Meatless Mondays in schools, and the study, conducted by its Harvard fellow, Dr Helen Harwatt, who specialises in planetary health and the environmental impact of ditching meat for plant protein, found that removing meat from the menu for just one day a week had resulted in the lives of more than 10.3 million land animals being saved.
The benefits of eating fewer animal products were highlighted in a recent study that found that if the US were to go vegan, it would have enough food to feed itself twice. One of the country’s most eminent advisory panels on nutrition concluded in 2015 that Americans should ditch meat and dairy in favour of more plant-based foods that are “more health promoting and… associated with less environmental impact than is the current average US diet”.
Meat Free Monday has been having similar success on this side of the pond, with schools across the country joining the campaign and cutting back on their meat intake – including in Trafford, Edinburgh and many other areas. MFM not only helps improve children’s health and the health of the planet, but also offers a fantastic teaching opportunity, to help kids learn about the environment, food systems and the impact individual choices can have on the wider world. Visit the schools section of our website to see how to get involved in this simple, fun way to help the planet and promote healthy food.