São Paulo, Brazil’s second largest city has joined the Meat Free Monday movement by
implementing a meatless lunch policy across its schools.
According to Meat Free Mondays, the city began feeding school children vegetarian meals twice a month in 2011. However, local officials have now decided to update the menu and the frequency of meat-free lunches to weekly.
Launched by Mayor Bruno Covas, the new menu will be served in more than 3,500 schools in the city, reaching more than one million students every week.
The wider state of São Paulo has also taken part in Meat Free Mondays. According to the organization, since 2017, 5,300 schools in 100 cities have served more vegetarian meals.
Mônica Buava — the National Coordinator of Segunda Sem Carne, the Brazilian arm of the Meat-free Monday movement set up by the Brazilian Vegetarian Society in 2009 — applauded the change. She told Meat Free Mondays, “adding up the capital and state of São Paulo, a total of 67 million meat-free meals were served in 2018.”
She added that it meant “an astonishing positive impact for the environment and for people’s health.”
The move reflects the changing attitudes of Brazilians towards a more plant-based diet. A
survey by The Good Food Institute showed that “76 percent of respondents reported a positive perception of people who are reducing the consumption of animal products.”
It also showed that — based on nearly 30 percent of respondents saying they were already choosing more vegan meals — the plant-based food market has a potential of reaching sixty million people across the country.
How Did Meatless Mondays Start?
According to the Meatless Monday website, the movement has its roots in war-time.
The original Meatless Monday started in order to encourage people to save and ration their intake as part of the war effort.
The initiative has gained popularity since, restarted in 2003 by marketing executive Sid Lerner, in collaboration with John Hopkins University.
McCartney is a vocal advocate for the movement, citing his two main reasons for giving it a try as the environment and out of compassion for animals in an interview with Brazilian radio station 89FM.