Meet Meatless Monday
Boone hasn’t even heard the first of career-long scholar and
healthy eating advocate Eva Rand.
“I moved to Vilas last August and thought I was happily retired,” said Rand, 63, who studied chemistry, nutrition and the dietary sciences at, and took degrees from, the universities of Michigan, Connecticut and New Haven. “But now I could get started up all over again. I’ve already been offered a really good job in nutrition here, and I might take it.”
What may have put Rand and her message on the High Country healthful-eating circuit was her recent fire-and-brimstone support of Meatless Mondays, a so-far successful campaign that collected commitments from many Boone restaurants – and even a unanimous town council resolution – for green menus the first business day of each week.
Among the restaurants considering kale and broccoli dishes on Mondays instead of beef and barbecue: Mint, Hob Nob, F.A.R.M. Café, Mellow Mushroom and the new food truck at Green Mother Goods.
“And, no, there were no cattle growers who showed up the night of the vote and paraded around the council chambers,” assured Rand.
They may not have shown up, but they’re paying attention to a movement that started nationally in 2004.
“We’ve noticed it across the country, even with some schools participating,” said Ashley Herring, who grew up on a farm in Kinston, graduated North Carolina State University and is now director of consumer information for the North Carolina Cattlemen’s Association. “It’s not a good thing to remove any one food group from the recommended plate, especially from children who need the protein.”
While the restaurants in Boone that volunteer to participate can ebb and flow and begin meatless menus at their discretion, some may begin gradually.
“Oh, yes, I’m just not sure about excluding our meat dishes on Monday,” said Yogi Rabari, manager of the Mint Cuisine of India restaurant on Boone Heights Drive. “Certainly, we will promote vegetarian dishes on Monday. But we always do.”
Rand, of course, would rather not nibble at vegetarian alternatives.
“It’s just one night,” she said. “Let’s start this. It’s all about your health. Look, we’ve been sold a bill of goods in this country about the need to eat animals and animal products. But poultry, fish, pork, beef, cheese, all have been implicated in the big ticket diseases that mean astronomical health care bills before killing us – heart, cancer, diabetes, obesity, even gout.
“Yes, gout! That used to be a disease of royalty. Back in history, it was the kings and their courts eating meats and dairy, not the masses. Today? Eight million Americans suffer from gout.”
She points out that many greens, like kale and broccoli, produce protein, too, and more importantly, plants literally “are protective of our health and well-being once they get into our system.”
Herring counters that “animal-based sources of protein are more easily digestible and benefit our bodies more than plant-based sources.
“And,” she said, “they are certainly more enjoyable than broccoli.”
The Boone Chamber of Commerce, however, seems to be staying clear of a potential food fight.
Said chamber president Dan Meyer: “We support all of our restaurants to do whatever they think is best for their businesses and their customers.”
The Boone council was unconditional in its resolve to support meatless menus on Monday.
Its resolution concludes: “Now, therefore, we, the Town Council of Boone, N.C., do resolve to support the Meatless Monday Movement to raise awareness about health benefits to individuals and the environment, by encouraging residents to explore meatless options to their diets.”
It noted a report developed by the state’s Division of Public Health that 65 percent of North Carolina adults are overweight or obese, that North Carolina ranks fifth in the United States in childhood obesity, and that four of the leading 10 causes of death in the U.S. are related to obesity.
The council also listed what it felt were environmental positives:
“Meat production contributes 18 percent of greenhouse gas emissions that are accelerating climate change, according to the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization; and … a report published by the Environmental Working Group in 2011 found that if every American eliminated both meat and cheese from their diet for one day a week, it would be equivalent to removing 7.6 million cars from the road.”
The cattlemen’s association, meanwhile, doesn’t think Meatless Mondays will cripple its industry, or cause layoffs, “but we are going to follow it,” Herring said.
“I don’t think you are going to see our beautiful farms, with those green hillsides and lovely landscapes, shut down and urban development move in. Let’s hope not.”