The city of Paulicéia in Brazil’s São Paulo state, in partnership with Humane Society International, has joined the global Meatless Monday movement, committing to offering exclusively plant-based meals at all its public schools one day a week. This program will impact approximately 120,000 meals a year.
Meatless Mondays is a popular global movement that asks people to leave meat off their plates just one day a week, on Mondays, as a way to help the planet, their health and animals. Studies show that animal production is a key contributor to climate change, deforestation, water pollution and water use. In addition, most animals raised for food spend their days in factory farms where their treatment and living conditions are largely inhumane. Studies also show that eating more healthy plant based foods can help prevent chronic diseases like obesity and heart disease.
HSI worked with Paulicéia on the implementation of its Meatless Monday program through workshops and plant-based culinary trainings for school cooks.
Paulicéia Mayor Ermes da Silva said: “We are very happy to adopt the Meatless Monday campaign with Humane Society International. Providing our city’s children with plant-based meals will allow for a future of healthy adults.”
Sandra Lopes, food policy manager for HSI in Brazil, stated: “We’re thrilled to work with Paulicéia on the adoption of Meatless Monday. In addition to the numerous benefits for our health, eating more plant-based foods is also one of the most effective ways we can help environment, including saving water resources and reducing greenhouse gas emissions, as well as reducing animal suffering. We look forward to working with more school districts on similar programs.”
Millions of people and thousands of schools, hospitals and restaurants in Brazil and around the globe have adopted Meatless Monday.
A growing number of institutions in Brazil, including the Brazilian Ministry of Health and USP’s School of Public Health, are recognizing that a reduction in meat consumption is necessary to help animals, the environment and our health. In its 2014 Dietary Guidelines, the Brazilian Ministry of Health recommended that meat consumption be limited to reduce the risk of obestiy, heart disease and other chronic diseases in people, and to lessen stress on the environment and animals. In this same report, the Ministry stated: “Opting to consume various types of plant-based foods and a limited consumption of animal products indirectly results in a food system that is more just and less stressful (detrimental) on the environment, animals and biodiversity in general”.
HSI promotes humane eating- or the 3 R’s: “reducing” or “replacing” consumption of animal products, and “refining” our diets by choosing products from sources that adhere to higher animal welfare standards.
- The São Paulo city school district also participates in Meatless Monday, serving more than half a million plant-based meals every two weeks.
- According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, animal agriculture is one of the greatest contributors to the most serious environmental issues, like global warming, and is a major consumer of scarce water resources. For example, in terms of protein, the water footprint is six times bigger for beef, and one and a half times larger for chicken, eggs and milk, than it is for legumes.
- Choosing plant-based foods helps our health. Many of the chronic diseases plaguing the world, including obesity, heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure, can be prevented, treated and, in some cases, even reversed with a plant-based diet.
- Brazil is currently facing a new obesity and overweight epidemic, which is affecting 60 percent of the population, including children. One in three Brazilian children between the ages of 5 and 9 are obese or overwheight and face health risks as a result.
- Meatless Monday also reduces animal suffering. Tens of millions of animals in food production in Brazil, like egg-laying hens and breeding sows, are intensively confined and spend their whole lives in cages so small they can barely even move.