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Center for a Livable Future


October 17, 2013

CLF celebrates first 10 years of Meatless Monday campaign

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The Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future yesterday celebrated the 10-year anniversary of the Meatless Monday Campaign for which it serves as the scientific advisor. The celebration began with a scientific symposium at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, which was capped off when the School awarded its highest honor, a Dean’s Medal, to Meatless Monday founder Sid Lerner.

Al Sommer, the former dean of the School of Public Health, presented the award to Lerner, crediting him with helping to “turn [Meatless Monday] into a global movement” and saying that Lerner has “shown us all how it should be done.”

Lerner, a former ad executive turned health advocate, deflected all the praise.

“You don’t do this by yourself,” he said. “It’s really a cast of thousands.”

Meatless Monday has extended its influence into 29 countries and attracted big-name proponents such as Paul McCartney, Al Gore, Oprah Winfrey and Mario Batali. It has also branched out to include seven additional health-oriented Monday campaigns, of which Lerner is the chairman.

Earlier in the symposium, Lerner, Sommer and CLF Director Robert Lawrence recounted for the audience the genesis of the campaign. Lerner recommended reviving the Meatless Monday idea that had been used for rationing purposes during World Wars I and II. This time, though, it would be promoted as a way to improve public health, especially by reducing intake of saturated fat.

Lawrence pointed out that former U.S. Surgeon General David Satcher had recommended that Americans reduce their saturated fat intake by 15 percent. Lerner liked the convenience of that number, as it represented almost exactly one day’s worth of consumption. So, why not make Monday a day without meat, and take the simplest route to a 15-percent reduction?

“What this is all about is prevention, which only gets five cents on the dollar,” Lerner said. “Ninety-five percent goes to the treatment and cure. So, the deck is stacked against prevention.”

For 10 years already, Meatless Monday has been beating those odds.