The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!
New York City Public Schools to Join ‘Meatless Mondays’ Movement
For students in the United States' largest school district, "Meatloaf Monday" in the cafeteria will soon be a thing of the past.
Instead, New York City public schools will be adopting "Meatless Mondays" for the 2019-2020 school year in an effort to improve public health and reduce the city's environmental footprint, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced this week.
Each Monday, all breakfast and lunch food served to students will be entirely vegetarian, though students are still welcome to bring pack lunches with meat in them. According to the Department of Education, Food and Nutrition Services officials will meet with students to receive their input before the menu is finalized.
The program was successfully piloted at 15 Brooklyn schools in Spring 2018 and the decision to expand it to the more than 1,800 schools citywide was based on positive feedback and metrics. The program will be cost-neutral, officials said, and school lunch is already free for all 1.1 million public school students in the city.
"When you're talking to a 10-year-old and they know this is good for their body and good for the earth, that proves we're going in the right direction," de Blasio said in a video posted to his Twitter account. "There's a lot of enthusiasm."
New York City joins a national movement of more than 100 other districts across the U.S. that participate in Meatless Mondays, according to Grist. Other organizations are getting on board too: New York City hospitals launched a Meatless Mondays initiative this year, while the City of Berkeley, Calif. now requires all food served at official meetings and events on Mondays to be vegan, The Hill reported.
Four school districts in northeastern Brazil recently went a step further: the cities voted to become the first in the world to serve only plant-based meals in order to reduce their environmental footprint and boost healthy eating habits.
A large body of research suggests that a plant-based diet can lower an individual's risk of diseases like diabetes, heart disease and cancer, registered dietician and author of "Plant-Powered for Life" Sharon Palmer told CNN. Meat can be a good source of protein, but most Americans eat more than 1.5 times the recommended amount. Excess red and processed meat consumption is linked with increased risk of the same diseases plant-based diets can help prevent, research found.
Eating less meat also appears to be beneficial for the earth.
A 2018 study published in the journal Science found that animal husbandry related to meat and dairy produces 60 percent of agricultural greenhouse gases and is responsible for 83 percent of all farmland use while only providing 18 percent of all global calorie intake. In other words, reduced meat consumption can lead to lower greenhouse gas emissions and more efficient use of farmlands.
"Reducing our appetite for meat is one of the single biggest ways individuals can reduce their environmental impact on our planet," Mark Chambers, director of the NYC Mayor's Office of Sustainability, said in a press release. "Meatless Mondays will introduce hundreds of thousands of young New Yorkers to the idea that small changes in their diet can create larger changes for their health and the health of our planet."
This trend toward "reducetarianism" has met some resistance, however. The U.S. Department of Agriculture pulled its support for Meatless Mondays in 2012 after complaints from livestock industry lobbyists and GOP legislators, The Hill reported.
- Vegan Food Goes Mainstream at U.S. Colleges - EcoWatch ›
- 16 School Lunch Programs Making a Difference - EcoWatch ›
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
hadynyah / E+ / Getty Images
By Johnny Wood
The Ganges is a lifeline for the people of India, spiritually and economically. On its journey from the Himalayas to the Bay of Bengal, it supports fishermen, farmers and an abundance of wildlife.
The river and its tributaries touch the lives of roughly 500 million people. But having flowed for millennia, today it is reaching its capacity for human and industrial waste, while simultaneously being drained for agriculture and municipal use.
Here are some of the challenges the river faces.
By Jake Johnson
As a growing number of states move to pass laws that would criminalize pipeline protests and hit demonstrators with years in prison, an audio recording obtained by The Intercept showed a representative of a powerful oil and gas lobbying group bragging about the industry's success in crafting anti-protest legislation behind closed doors.
Speaking during a conference in Washington, DC in June, Derrick Morgan, senior vice president for federal and regulatory affairs at the American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFPM), touted "model legislation" that states across the nation have passed in recent months.
AFPM represents a number of major fossil fuel giants, including Chevron, Koch Industries and ExxonMobil.
"We've seen a lot of success at the state level, particularly starting with Oklahoma in 2017," said Morgan, citing Dakota Access Pipeline protests as the motivation behind the aggressive lobbying effort. "We're up to nine states that have passed laws that are substantially close to the model policy that you have in your packet."
Big Oil is now using its political power to try and criminalize protests of oil & gas infrastructure.— Friends of the Earth (@foe_us) August 19, 2019
"This legislation has potential to punish public participation and mischaracterize advocacy protected by the First Amendment."https://t.co/bmiHjONEhy
The audio recording comes just months after Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed into law legislation that would punish anti-pipeline demonstrators with up to 10 years in prison, a move environmentalists condemned as a flagrant attack on free expression.
"Big Oil is hijacking our legislative system," Dallas Goldtooth of the Indigenous Environmental Network said after the Texas Senate passed the bill in May.
As The Intercept's Lee Fang reported Monday, the model legislation Morgan cited in his remarks "has been introduced in various forms in 22 states and passed in ... Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Missouri, Indiana, Iowa, South Dakota, and North Dakota."
"The AFPM lobbyist also boasted that the template legislation has enjoyed bipartisan support," according to Fang. "In Louisiana, Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards signed the version of the bill there, which is being challenged by the Center for Constitutional Rights. Even in Illinois, Morgan noted, 'We almost got that across the finish line in a very Democratic-dominated legislature.' The bill did not pass as it got pushed aside over time constraints at the end of the legislative session."
Many of the state bills restricting the right to protest have been "drafted by companies and passed through groups like ALEC, the secretive group of corporate lobbyists trying to rewrite state laws to benefit corporations over people." @greenpeaceusa https://t.co/ZxpTjWdrwT— Stand Up To ALEC (@StandUpToALEC) May 6, 2019
Reposted with permission from our media associate Common Dreams.
Hawaii's Kilauea volcano could be gearing up for an eruption after a pond of water was discovered inside its summit crater for the first time in recorded history, according to the AP.
The last four members of an embattled wolf pack were killed in Washington State Friday, hours before the court order that could have saved them.
By Randi Spivak
Slashing two national monuments in Utah may have received the most attention, but Trump's Interior Department and U.S. Forest Service have been quietly, systematically ceding control of America's public lands to fossil fuel, mining, timber and livestock interests since the day he took office.
A new report by Greenpeace International pinpointed the world's worst sources of sulfur dioxide pollution, an irritant gas that harms human health. India has seized the top spot from Russia and China, contributing nearly 15 percent of global sulfur dioxide emissions.
By Sue Branford and Thais Borges
Ola Elvestrun, Norway's environment minister, announced Thursday that it is freezing its contributions to the Amazon Fund, and will no longer be transferring €300 million ($33.2 million) to Brazil. In a press release, the Norwegian embassy in Brazil stated: