Georgia-Cumberland Conference of Seventh-day Adventists

Meatless Monday Cooking Class a Success

Kerri Boone leads out the Live Well Meatless Monday cooking class.
Kerri Boone and Adam White, a cooking class participant, demonstrate making gluten.

In January, Live Well, based in Jellico, Tenn., sponsored a Meatless Monday cooking class at the LaFollette Church in Woodson's Mall. About 25 individuals attended, most of which were community members. The class was conducted by Kerri Boone and her assistants Bonnie Wilkens and Marsharee Wilkens. Participants got a great meal and had fun learning how to “take steps to a healthier you.” During the class, Boone demonstrated a variety of meatless dishes from breakfast to dessert that could be added to the monthly menu. Attendees were told, “Our bodies are wonderfully made by our loving Creator. He designed special natural foods for us to function properly. It's our choice whether we choose to eat them or not.” Each time the choice to go meatless for a meal or more is made, health improves and the cost on the environment decreases making it a win-win choice every time.

According to the National Cencer Institute, serious diseases that are linked to what we eat kill an estimated three out of four Americans each year. That's 75 percent. This cooking class was designed around healthy, plant-based foods that are rich in nutrients and full of fiber to help one feel better and live a healthier life. The purpose of this class was to encourge participants to choose those healthy foods created especially for them and to “eat to live.”

Abundant evidence shows that a vegetarian diet is more healthful than the average western American diet, especially for preventing, treating, or reversing heart disease and reducing the risks of cancer. Research has also shown that a low-fat vegetarian diet is the single most effective way to stop progression of coronary artery disease or prevent it altogether. Several other health conditions, such as diabetes, obesity, gallstones, and kidney stones, are also much less common in vegetarians.

The class was held as part of the Meatless Monday movement which is an international campaign that encourages people to not eat meat on Monday to improve their health and the health of the planet. Meatless Monday is a non-profit initiative of The Monday Campaigns, Inc. in association with the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health Center for a Livable Future. Meatless Monday was founded in 2003 by marketing professional Sid Lerner. The program follows the nutrition guidelines developed by the USDA. Meatless Monday is part of the Healthy Monday initiative.Healthy Monday encourages Americans to make healthier decisions at the start of every week. 

Meatless Monday focuses its initiative on Monday for multiple reasons. Monday is typically the beginning of the work week, the day when individuals settle back into their weekly routine. Unhealthy habits that prevailed over the weekend can be forgotten and replaced by positive choices. A weekly reminder to restart healthy habits also encourages success. A 2009 trial published in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine provided individuals with weekly health prompts and encouragement. Approximately two-thirds of participants responded with improvements in their overall health, eating habits, and physical activity levels.

During World War I, the United States Food Administration (USFA) urged families to reduce consumption of key staples to help the war effort. Conserving food would support U.S. troops as well as feed populations in Europe where food production and distribution had been disrupted by war. To encourage voluntary rationing, the USFA created the slogan “Food Will Win the War” and coined the terms "Meatless Monday" and "Wheatless Wednesday” to remind Americans to reduce intake of those products.

Herbert Hoover was the head of the Food Administration as well as the American Relief Association during Woodrow Wilson's presidency and played a key role implementing the campaign, which was one of Hoover’s many attempts to encourage volunteerism and sacrifice among Americans during the war. The USFA provided a wide variety of materials in addition to advertising, including recipe books and menus found in magazines, newspapers, and government-sponsored pamphlets.

The campaign returned with the onset of World War II, calling upon women on the homefront to play a role in supporting the war effort. This time, meat was being rationed, along with other commodities like sugar and gasoline.

Meatless Monday was revived in 2003 as a public health awareness program. The campaign was endorsed by the Center for a Livable Future (a division of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health) as well as more than 20 public health schools. In April 2009, Meatless Monday launched an informational video noting the effects of meat consumption on climate change. Meatless Monday is based in the United States, but meatless days (Monday in particular) are gaining popularity worldwide.


Written by Tawmi Grebe-Mitchell

Photos contributed