If every American committed to a vegetarian diet just one day a week, we could save 1 ton of water and 12 billion gallons of gasoline. While we may never reach those numbers, the institutional food provider Sodexo just gave them a big boost by joining the Meatless Monday campaign. The company serves nearly 10 million people every day in hospitals, universities, and corporate cafeterias around the country. After a successful pilot last fall, the initiative was brought to more than 900 hospital clients this month, and all of Sodexo’s clients will join by the end of the year.
Corporate and government cafeterias will see the program this spring, universities will have it by the fall, and senior centers will join by December. The campaign works with food providers to create interesting, flavorful vegetarian dishes that they promote during the week. Banners, pamphlets and special menus will provide diners with information about Meatless Mondays and why opting for a veg-only dish is better for their health and the environment.
Sodexo began emphasizing healthier and more sustainable eating and lifestyle choices in 2009 when the company launched its “Better Tomorrow Plan,” which pledges to protect and restore the environment, encourage better food choices, and promote personal health and wellness.
WHY THIS MATTERS:
These stats from Meatless Monday say it all: The United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization estimates the meat industry generates nearly one-fifth of the man-made greenhouse gas emissions that are accelerating climate change; An estimated 1,800 to 2,500 gallons of water go into a single pound of beef, whereas soy tofu produced in California requires 220 gallons of water per pound; on average, about 40 calories of fossil fuel energy go into every calorie of feed lot beef in the U.S. compared to 2.2 calories of fossil fuel energy needed to produce one calorie of plant-based protein. The bottom line is that eating less meat helps us reduce our carbon footprint, save water, and reduce our dependence on fossil fuels.
Lead image © SweetOnVeg via Creative Commons