If you receive health or social care in the southwest of England, you’ll be pleased to know that the powers-that-feed are keeping a keen eye on the nutritiousness and sustainability of your food. One NHS-funded organisation in Plymouth joined Meat Free Monday for a three-month trial that will hopefully result in other health trusts and healthcare providers following suit.
Livewell Southwest (LWSW) is believed to be the first NHS-funded organisation to run a Meat Free Monday campaign. While it was aimed primarily at staff, the independent social enterprise, which provides integrated health and social care services across Plymouth and West Devon, decided joining MFM was one of the simplest ways of promoting health and wellbeing across the region.
As well as offering delicious meat free meals every Monday at Café Gould, its main canteen at Plymouth’s Mount Gould Hospital, LWSW publicised the campaign and featured recipe ideas in its fortnightly staff bulletin, and encouraged people to upload photos of their own creations on the staff Facebook group, with prizes for the tastiest-looking meals.
A promotional stall was also set up, so local vegetable retailers could display their wares, and a veg box home delivery company paid a visit, offering free samples and discounts for staff. The general aim was to promote the health and wellbeing of staff, as well as to use nutritious and planet-friendly food as a way of bring people in the community together.
Jan Potter, LWSW’s head of health improvement, said she was “delighted” to have taken part in the campaign, citing the health benefits of eating less meat and more fruit and veg, “foods that are generally higher in fibre, which supports a healthy gut and reduces the risk of some cancers”.
She added: “As an organisation dedicated to supporting our population, including our staff to live healthy lives, Meat Free Monday seemed like a great way to also encourage people to eat their five-a-day.”
Those who took part certainly took a lot from the experience, from the canteen staff who said they “enjoyed doing different vegetarian meals” to diners for whom meat free grub was a change for the better. Some reported becoming a lot less fussy, being won over by lentils, and even finding themselves motivated “to focus on eating more vegetables instead of junk food.”
Another added: “Meat free days are an easy swap, with a bit of inspiration and encouragement. People don’t realise how easy it is, or how sophisticated veggie food is now.”