The campaign was started during world war 1 when the US Food Administration proclaimed that ‘Food would win the war’. So they began the Meatless Monday and Wheatless Wednesday to encourage everyone to do their part in supporting the war effort.
The effect was overwhelming. Some 10 million families, 7,000 hotels and nearly 425,000 food dealers pledged to observe national meatless days. In November 1917, New York City hotels saved some 116 tons of meat over the course of just one week. According to a 1929 Saturday Evening Post article, “Americans began to look seriously into the question of what and how much they were eating. Lots of people discovered for the first time that they could eat less and feel no worse – frequently for the better” (extracted from www.meatlessmonday.com).
Meatless Monday was revived in 2003 by former ad man turned health advocate Sid Lerner, who saw the prevalence of preventable illnesses associated with excessive meat consumption and decided to introduce Meatless Monday as a public health awareness campaign. The initiative was backed by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health’s Center for a Livable Future and endorsed by 30 schools of public health.
Meatless Monday has since turned into a global movement with a wide network of participating hospitals, schools, worksites and restaurants around the globe. The simplicity of Meatless Monday’s message has allowed the campaign to once again become part of the American and now the South African lexicon. The City of Cape Town is the first South African city to officially proclaim Meatless Mondays as part of healthy living.