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Curbing your carnivorous cravings on Mondays could help you and the environment

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Monday is the day to set goals, take back the sense of responsibility the weekend stole from you and … not eat meat. At least Johns Hopkins’ Bloomberg School of Public Health thinks so. And plenty of people are following suit.

Johns Hopkins partnered with The Monday Campaigns to create the Meatless Monday campaign, a nonprofit initiative promoting healthy, environmentally friendly meat-free alternatives one day a week. It’s no surprise that vegetarians don’t take issue with this, but even steak-loving, hamburger-craving carnivores are picking up the trend.

“But why?” you might ask as you prepare to sink your teeth into a tall Italian hero. MeatlessMonday.com states that going meatless once a week can help limit cancer risk, reduce heart disease, fight diabetes, curb obesity and promote longevity, as well as reduce one’s carbon footprint, minimize water usage and help reduce fossil fuel dependence.

In Aspen, Colo., “the nation’s first true Meatless Monday community,” Meatless Mondays have been embraced in every way possible. At least 20 of the city’s institutions and restaurants offer vegetarian choices on Mondays, and the city’s public schools joined the movement two years ago, according to the New York Times. “Breakfast for lunch,” which refers to whole-grain pancakes, has become a staple in elementary and middle schools, and school lunches — everything, including the ketchup — are made from scratch.

Restaurants also are embracing the campaign for the added profit-making benefits of following a trend. Mondays remain one of the slowest days in the restaurant industry, and as Nick Grotton, president and CEO of the Maine Restaurant Association, was quoted as saying in the Portland Press Herald, a Meatless Monday promotion “gives consumers another reason to go out on Monday.”

The campaign has been covered by the Los Angeles Times, Food Network and New York Times, among other media outlets, and the website links readers to bloggers who support the movement. MeatlessMonday.com also includes health news — for example, food trucks are joining the effort — as well as recipes.

No one’s asking you to become a vegan, or even a vegetarian. But it could benefit your health and the environment if you hold of on that Italian sub until Tuesday, and perhaps instead reach for a bowl of gazpacho.

Check out the campaign’s site here.

What are some of your favorite meatless dishes?

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