MEAT­LESS MON­DAYS

The Val­ley Hos­pi­tal re­duces its car­bon foot­print

201 Health - - News -

The Val­ley Hos­pi­tal re­duces its car­bon foot­print

“Di­ets high

in fruits, nuts, whole grains and veg­eta­bles are en­vi­ron­men­tally friendly,

less ex­pen­sive and bet­ter for your health.”

DAWN CAS­CIO,

DI­REC­TOR OF FOOD SER­VICES, THE VAL­LEY HOS­PI­TAL

In the sum­mer of 2012, The Val­ley Hos­pi­tal launched a cam­paign called Meat­less Mon­day to en­cour­age health­ier and more sus­tain­able eat­ing among pa­tients, vis­i­tors and staff. Val­ley is the lat­est hos­pi­tal, and the first in New Jersey, to join the in­ter­na­tional (http://www.hu­mane­so­ci­ety.org/news/news/2011/12/res­o­lu­tion_meat­less_­mon­days_ 123011.html) Meat­less Mon­day move­ment, which urges con­sumers to cut out meat from their diet one day a week.

The goal is to help peo­ple re­duce their meat con­sump­tion by 15 per­cent in or­der to im­prove their per­sonal health. Meat­less Mon­day also is in­tended to raise aware­ness of the en­vi­ron­men­tal and pub­lic health im­pact of in­dus­trial meat pro­duc­tion linked to wa­ter use, cli­mate change and pol­lu­tion. Meat pro­duc­tion uses large amounts of land and wa­ter and is a ma­jor fac­tor in wa­ter pol­lu­tion world­wide.

“En­cour­ag­ing peo­ple to eat fewer an­i­mal prod­ucts is a nat­u­ral ex­ten­sion of our com­mit­ment to sus­tain­abil­ity and pro­mot­ing healthy eat­ing,” Dawn Cas­cio, di­rec­tor of food ser­vices at The Val­ley Hos­pi­tal, says. “Di­ets high in fruits, nuts, whole grains and veg­eta­bles are en­vi­ron­men­tally friendly, less ex­pen­sive and bet­ter for your health.”

Re­duc­ing meat in­take can lessen a per­son’s risk for de­vel­op­ing chronic con­di­tions like obe­sity, di­a­betes, car­dio­vas­cu­lar dis­ease and even can­cer. Re­cent data from a Har­vard School of Pub­lic Health study found that re­plac­ing one serv­ing of red meat with one serv­ing of healthy pro­tein sources like nuts, legumes and whole grains was as­so­ci­ated with a lower mor­tal­ity rate of as much as 19 per­cent.

In ad­di­tion to ed­u­cat­ing the com­mu­nity about the health and en­vi­ron­men­tal ben­e­fits of eat­ing more meat-free meals, ev­ery Mon­day, all four hos­pi­tal cafés will high­light plant-based menu op­tions. They will use fresh in­gre­di­ents, some pur­chased from Catalpa Ridge Farm in Wan­tage, to pro­vide a tasty al­ter­na­tive for peo­ple look­ing for a healthy and en­vi­ron­men­tally friendly op­tion.

“When you get the idea of meat be­ing cen­ter of the plate out of your head,” Val­ley’s ex­ec­u­tive chef John Graziano says, “ev­ery­thing else just falls into place.”

To en­cour­age peo­ple to go meat­less on Mon­days at home, Graziano sug­gests try­ing new in­gre­di­ents.

“Whole grains like wheat berries, new herbs like lemon thyme and Thai basil, and in­ter­est­ing fruits like pome­gran­ate and pa­paya make it fun,” he says.

Kristie Mid­dle­ton, food pol­icy man­ager at The Hu­mane So­ci­ety of the United States, ap­plauds Val­ley’s new pro­gram.

“If each Amer­i­can chose plant- in­stead of meat-based meals even just on Mon­days,” she says, “fac­tory farm pro­duc­tion would be re­duced, our en­vi­ron­ment would be bet­ter off and our health would im­prove. Val­ley is the lat­est hos­pi­tal to show that be­ing so­cially re­spon­si­ble can also be de­li­cious.”

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