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October 7, 2002

School Introduces National “Meatless Monday” Health Campaign

Campaign Aims to Cut Americans' Consumption of Saturated Fat by 15 Percent

The Center for a Livable Future at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health is working with a major national public health program, the Meatless Monday Campaign, Inc., in an effort to reduce the consumption of saturated fat and calories in the American diet. The campaign calls for eliminating meat from meals one day per week to encourage people to explore healthy dietary alternatives and increase awareness of the toll meat consumption takes on our health and the environment.

“Advocating moderation, Meatless Monday’s objective is to lower American consumption of meat by 15 percent by 2010,” said Robert Lawrence, MD, associate dean and director of the Center for a Livable Future at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. The Meatless Monday Campaign follows the recommendations of the American Heart Association and Healthy People 2010, which is the health goal for the nation set by the Department of Health and Human Services.

“Meat consumption in America is higher than any other country in the world and clearly contributes to heart disease, stroke, and cancer, which are the three leading causes of death in the nation along with the risk factors of smoking, low consumption of fruits and vegetables, and lack of exercise,” explained Dr. Lawrence. “Meats, as well as dairy products such as whole milk and cheese, are the primary sources of saturated fat in our diet. The good news is that many people have already been making positive changes in their diets over the past decade,” he added. 

Recent studies by the Center for a Livable Future found that people are very interested in learning how to reduce their intake of saturated fats and are willing to include "Meatless Monday" in their future meal planning. However, Dr. Lawrence said the problem is that many people are confused by all of the different diet messages they are hearing. 

“There are many conflicting messages out there but the link between meat, saturated fat, and heart disease is clear,” said Dr. Lawrence. “Plus, few people are aware of the changes in our agricultural system that is fueled by our high demands for meat. The cost of meat in the grocery store is lower than ever, but that has come at the expense of air, land, and water quality – and this has a much higher price tag in the long run.”

The Meatless Monday Campaign, scheduled to formally launch in 2003, will provide the tools people need, including recipe ideas, nutritional information, and advice from nutritional experts. Meatless Monday will also use an extensive website, cookbooks, and the national and local media to reach Americans across the country. 

As work on this new public health effort progresses and the national launch date nears, it is expected that restaurants, grocery stores, and food companies will join the Meatless Monday Campaign to help promote this important concept in public health.

Public Affairs Media Contacts for the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health: Tim Parsons or Kenna Brigham @ 410-955-6878 or paffairs@jhsph.edu