While most of us would assume that Meatless Mondays is a recent response to a desire to preserve both our personal health and our fragile ecosystem, it has quite a bit of historical context that stretches back a century. During World War l, the then-head of the wartime US Food Administration Herbert Hoover asked Americans to not eat meat. The original day was also Tuesdays, not Mondays.
By the time America had entered World War I, much of the citizens of our European allies were already starving. With much of the farmland in Western Europe turned into battlefields and the farmers themselves turned into soldiers, it was left to those who could not fight (women, children, and the elderly) to tend to what little farming still existed. In order to help our allies and feed our troops “over there”, Hoover and the US Food Administration coined the slogan “Food will win the war”. Rather than resorting to rationing, the first campaign asked Americans to cut back on meat, fat, sugar and wheat and to participate in Meatless Tuesdays and Wheatless Wednesdays.
The campaign took off across the country and had an impact in all realms of American society. The effort also paid off, resulting in a 15% reduction in home food consumption during a 12-month period between 1918-1919. More than 13 million American families signed a pledge to observe the USFA’s conservation days. This successful, all volunteer movement was revived during World War ll, when families additionally ripped out there front lawns to plant their one vegetable gardens in order to conserve food for the war effort.
Today, one could make the argument that we are engaged in a different kind of war. It’s a war against time, and its a war on our own consumption habits. It’s a war for our quality of life and ultimately for the quality of our environment. Meatless Mondays was revived in 2003 as a public health awareness campaign to prevent illnesses that were connected to excessive meat consumption. It has also become a positive step in the effort to reduce our carbon footprint. Commercial cattle farming produces high levels of methane, which are just as harmful to our environment as automobiles. If every American went 100% plant-based in their diet, it would be significant to the effort to reduce greenhouse emissions. It would also be the sort of patriotism that was seen by those who participated in the conservation days of the past, and it just might be enough to push government policy in a responsible direction regarding greenhouse emissions nationally.
We at BerryBreeze™ take our responsibility to the planet seriously, and we are proud to have signed the pledge to forego meat at least one day a week. If you haven’t already, we ask you to do the same, and to share with us your thoughts on eating less meat in the comments below. Oh, and here’s a great meatless Monday recipe in case you want to get started tonight!