The Danish company Novo Nordisk is considering introducing a Meat Free Monday in its canteens across the country and beyond, thanks to the efforts of two meat-free-eating employees.
Tanja Bøgeløv Jørgensen and Pankaj Sharma, who work as a business analyst and a senior project manager at the pharmaceutical firm, decided to take a stand against the typically meat-heavy Danish diet by organising a meat free day at their company canteen in the town of Hillerød, 25 miles north of Copenhagen.
“A key message in today’s climate debate is that meat consumption is contributing to increased greenhouse gas emissions,” says Tanja, explaining what inspired the pair to suggest the initiative – including, of course, the work of Meat Free Monday and our sister organisation in Denmark, Kødfri Mandag. They came up with the idea two years ago, when Novo Nordisk announced its intention to start curbing carbon emissions as part of a new commitment to renewable energy, and invited employees to organise their own “Takeaction” events – a volunteer programme that gives employees the chance to undertake activities supporting social, environmental or health objectives.
So for one day the canteen at Hillerød went meat free, offering diners vegetarian dishes and recipe cards; the room was decked with green balloons and promoted with posters explaining the importance of cutting down on the amount of meat we eat. It was so successful that the all-day takeaway veggie option had sold out at 9.15 am, long before a meat free lunch that more than 80 per cent of satisfied diners rated very good or excellent. More than 70 per cent also said it would be a fantastic idea to introduce a weekly meat free day in the canteen, and half of those asked said would be doing the same at home.
Klaus Nørgaard Andersen, one of the company’s service coordinators in the facility services department, said at the time that the company had “decided that we will look into the possibility of implementing a regular vegetarian day in designated canteens around our sites”. He added that they were in dialogue with two of their suppliers to make it happen.
And it looks like it is happening: Novo Nordisk has introduced what it calls “Climate Days” on a trial basis in selected canteens across Denmark. The test period will run until the end of June, when a meat free day could become a reality for thousands of employees.
The success of the initiative was all down to Tanja and Pankaj wanting to highlight the environmental impact of the food we eat, as well as show colleagues how delicious and nutritious meat free meals could be. “Our intention with the meat free event was to create awareness about a vegetarian diet being both tasty, healthy and filling,” Pankaj said.
So how about proposing a similar meat free day at your canteen? Check out the MFM website for recipe suggestions and resources to help you get started. And don’t forget to let us know how it goes!
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the contributors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Novo Nordisk.