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What’s Behind Meatless Mondays

It’s a program designed by a famous Manhattan Avenue adman to reduce meat consumption.

Several years ago, Kay Johnson Smith and her husband attended a “Stewardship Sunday” service at their United Methodist Church in Alexandria, Virginia.

“A team of five lay individuals each talked about what we should do to take care of God’s creation,” says the president and CEO of the Animal Agriculture Alliance. “Here I was, sitting in church on Sunday morning, looking to reconnect, and one of the lay people focused on Meatless Mondays.”

What It’s About

Meatless Mondays is an initiative of The Monday Campaign, founded by Sid Lerner, a Madison Avenue adman. He has developed famous ad campaigns, such as the “Don’t Squeeze the Charmin” campaign that ran from the 1960s into the 1980s. The campaign promotes that consumers nix meat one day out of the week for environmental and health reasons. Lerner started Meatless Monday in 2003 in association with Johns Hopkins University. The Monday Campaign’s website states that the movement has grown globally, with programs in 23 countries and participation from thousands of restaurants, schools, worksites, communities, and celebrities.

Initially surprised, Johnson Smith took many notes during the presentation. She and her husband, who has a background in the Texas cattle industry, put together an outline to counter the group’s message. “It is based on false propaganda from groups whose entire goal is to move people to a vegan diet and eliminate protein choices completely,” she says. “Our pastor shared the letter with the committee that prepared the service, and to my knowledge, Meatless Mondays is not talked about anymore in our church.”

The 3 R’s

The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) includes a Meatless Monday page on its website. It fits into a 3R strategy by the HSUS, says Reasa Currier, HSUS faith outreach director.

Components include:

“We like to think of ourselves as a Big Tent organization,” says Currier. “We have lots of divergent views in our membership and leadership. Some think consuming plant-based products is the best way to honor creation. Some think shopping at the local farmers market and supporting local farmers is the best way to do that.”

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