When in Rome, do as the Romans do. And when in a classroom in Rome, do as Michela Carissimi does, and teach kids all about MFM.
Michela, an English teacher at a school near the Italian capital, has been expanding the culinary and environmental horizons of her pupils with lessons in Meat Free Monday. And this isn’t the first time she has taken the campaign into the classroom.
At Liceo Scientifico Ignazio Vian in Bracciano, 20 miles outside Rome, she has been informing a new generation of healthy and planet-aware children, helping them discover the nutritional and environmental benefits of plant-based food. Michela used MFM as a learning tool in 2015 when she taught at a high school in the capital – and then again three years later at her new school.
“This is the third time I have introduced my students to MFM, and every year I always receive great feedback from them,” she said. “They are happy to discover new things about the importance of the food they eat and they enjoy trying new recipes at home. They involve their families and friends and it always becomes an epidemic of joy.”
In their Civic Education lessons at Liceo Scientifico Ignazio Vian, three different classes of 14-year-olds learn how to live well in the world and become the best adults they can be. This year they are focusing primarily on the environment, and Michela, who has been an MFM supporter since 2010, knew exactly what to teach.
Using the campaign as a springboard into all manner of discussions, Michela has asked her 1A, 1B and 1M pupils to do a PowerPoint presentation on the life of MFM’s founder, Paul McCartney, focusing particularly on his work for the environment. They have also talked about subjects mentioned in the lyrics of the Meat Free Monday song and watched the film One Day a Week.
With the help of science teachers Maria La Banca, Vincenza Papa and Ambra Piccone, they have also explored carbon dioxide, greenhouse gases and the importance of a balanced diet, as well as protein in plant-based grub.
All of which helped them return to PowerPoint and come up with a plethora of reasons why Meat Free Monday can help cut pollution and protect the environment. Not only that, but each group created their own vegan recipes – including Wholemeal Asparagus and Cherry Tomato Spaghetti, Caponata alla Siciliana and Aubergine Balls – which have now been combined into a recipe book.
“I was amazed to discover how the food we eat impacts our planet,” said one youngster. “From now on I’ll be more aware about the food I choose.”
Michela added: “Everyone wants to do something to protect our planet, but actually no one knows what to do and where to start. Thanks to Meat Free Monday, I am very happy to give young people a simple way to make something for our world.”