A positive plan: The meatless Monday idea

Ella Olsson    | Pexels

Ella Olsson | Pexels

Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on March 11 that he will expand his “Meatless Mondays” program to all New York City public schools beginning in the 2019-2020 school year. The initiative seems nearly invisible to students — one day they eat mozzarella sticks instead of chicken nuggets for lunch? Pancakes with yogurt instead of with sausages for breakfast?

The change is barely even noticeable.

This new program is an attempt to simultaneously combat childhood obesity and New York City’s contribution to climate change. After being tested at 15 Brooklyn schools, de Blasio decided to bring “Meatless Mondays” to all schools. “Cutting back on meat a little will improve New Yorkers' health and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. We're expanding Meatless Mondays to all public schools to keep our lunch and planet green for generations to come,” he said at a news conference.

“Meatless Mondays” are a small step to reducing New York youth’s meat consumption, which has been shown to lead to obesity, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis and cardiovascular disease, according to Marian Glick-Bauer and Ming-Chin Yeh of the CUNY School of Public Health.

While only having one day where two-thirds of students’ meals are vegetarian might not make the biggest change in the world, this small adaption in the food served can benefit kids' health.

Additionally, the program is aimed to help the environment. As the study “Options for keeping the food system within environmental limits” states, “The production of animal products generates the majority of food-related greenhouse-gas emissions — specifically up to 78 percent of total agricultural emissions,” CNN reported.

NYC officials from all levels of city and state are even praising de Blasio on his project, including Director of the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability Mark Chambers, Schools Chancellor Richard A. Carranza and State Sen. Alessandra Biaggi.

The small reduction in meat-consumption generated by “Meatless Mondays” would be enough to have an impact on the amount of emissions released annually.

The program benefits New York City’s health. It doesn’t require a massive change to the school food schedules that students would even notice.

College students can benefit from having the program as much as younger students can. The less meat consumed each week, the better for the environment.

But “Meatless Mondays” can’t be initiated at Baruch College, since the college does not have student meal plans or even a cafeteria that sells hot food. Other CUNY colleges should implement this idea and it would be smart to do so.