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The origins and growth of the Meatless Monday movement

March 14, 2024
Frontiers in Nutrition

Richard D. Semba, Peggy Neu, Pamela Berg, Jamie Harding, Shawn McKenzie, Rebecca Ramsing

Meatless Monday is a global movement that encourages people to reduce meat in their diets for their own health and the health of the planet. We conducted a comprehensive review of primary and secondary sources and archival material documenting the origins, historical roots, and growth of Meatless Monday and simultaneous developments in public health. Sources for the paper included publications of the US Food Administration and articles and media identified using searches of ProQuest Historical Newspapers, Academic, ProQuest US Newsstream, ProQuest Canadian Newstream, ProQuest International Newsstream databases, and Meatless Monday was conceived by the advertising executive and public health advocate Sid Lerner in 2003, inspired by the meatless days observed during World War I and II. Meatless Monday grew steadily from 2003 to 2023 through advocacy by food writers, talk show hosts, and celebrity chefs, and through participation by schools, cities, restaurants, corporations, and institutions worldwide.