Rethinking Meat-Free Mondays to encourage sustainability
November 15, 2023
At ProVeg UK, our mission is to transform the global food system. One way we’re doing this is by helping school caterers to create more sustainable menus.
‘Meat-Free Mondays’ are a common initiative in many schools, promoting healthier diets and reduced food emissions. But what if there was a way to make this initiative even more impactful?
Through our work with thousands of UK schools, we’ve found a much better alternative: ‘Planet-Friendly Days’. By shifting away from the term ‘meat-free’ (which can suggest there is something ‘lacking’ from a menu), we can shed a spotlight on plant-based meals in a far more positive way.
If you are a school caterer and want to increase the uptake of plant-based meals, we recommend adopting a ‘Planet-Themed Day’ once or twice a week. It’s important to switch up which days these fall on too, helping to normalise sustainable eating as an everyday practice.
Meat-free Mondays vs. Planet-Themed Days
Planet-Themed Days are an engaging way to educate children about the connection between dietary choices and the health of our planet. Activities such as poster-designing contests and plant-based cooking classes can help to provide a fun learning experience about our food systems, and encourage children to try new dishes at lunchtime. Some menu suggestions for your Planet-Themed Day include:
- Climate-friendly chickpea & potato curry with flatbread
- Planet-friendly Burger (veggie burger) with sweet potato wedges & BBQ sauce
- Planet Pie (plant-based shepherd’s pie) with seasonal vegetables
Though it may seem like a minor shift, this approach has the potential to significantly change perceptions of plant-based meals. We’ve seen an increase in uptake of plant-based and vegetarian school dinners through making this simple shift, and our catering partners have reported more positive feedback from parents and children after rebranding their Meat-free Mondays.
The evolution from Meat-Free Mondays to Planet-Friendly Days represents a strategic shift towards a more sustainable and impactful approach to food education. While the changes may seem minor, they hold the potential to transform children’s perception of plant-based dishes significantly.
Through our School Plates programme, we can provide schools with free menu consultation, nutrition advice, recipe development and plant-based cookery training to help make Planet-Friendly Days even more successful. To find out more about how we can help, send us an email at [email protected].