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City-County Council Passes Meatless Monday Resolution

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The Indianapolis City-County Council passed a resolution in support of Meatless Mondays on December 5, 2016. The resolution encourages Indianapolis residents and institutions to try a meat-free day at the beginning of each week, aiming to reduce the city’s environmental footprint and raise awareness about healthy eating.

The resolution was championed by Council Vice-President Zach Adamson (D – District 17), and co-sponsored by Jared Evans (D – District 22), Blake Johnson (D – District 12) and Jeff Miller (R – District 16). “I’m excited the City Council has made clear both the importance of a diet high in vegetables and the negative impacts meat products have on our health and our environment,” Councilman Adamson said. “With Indianapolis ranking so high in diet-related illness, including obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, this is an important declaration that encourages our fellow residents to make healthy and environmentally sound food choices.”

Nearly two-thirds of adults in Indianapolis and approximately 40 percent of children and teens are overweight or obese. Obesity is associated with a higher risk of various health ailments including heart disease and type-2 diabetes, stroke, cancer, arthritis and diminished overall quality of life. There is growing evidence that meat consumption is linked to several serious health conditions, including cancer. Additionally, an increase in the consumption of fruits and vegetables combined with reduced consumption of meat also decreases the risk of developing heart disease, which is the leading cause of death in the United States.

Vegan eating is more popular than ever, with celebrities such as Stevie Wonder, Ellen DeGeneres, James Cameron, and New Jersey congressman Cory Booker promoting their plant-based diets. Oprah Winfrey has been an outspoken supporter of Meatless Mondays, asking her fans to join her in pledging to eschew animal products for at least one day a week. Proving that there is a market for vegan food in Indianapolis, Three Carrots, the only all-vegan restaurant in the city, was recently featured on USA Today as the highest-rated restaurant in the entire state on Yelp. Three Carrots is popular among omnivores as well as vegans.

The Center of Wellness for Urban Women (CWUW) has been promoting Meatless Monday in Indianapolis for years. CWUW is an official Meatless Monday blogger for the initiative and has been promoting Meatless Monday meals and heart health education with families through workshops, cooking demonstrations and social media marketing. “In 2014, the City-County Council passed a Healthy Food Resolution to address access healthy food for the residents of Marion County. In passing the Meatless Monday resolution, the City County Council demonstrates a continued commitment to improving the health and well-being for families in Marion County,” said Rhonda L. Bayless, Executive Director, CWUW.

CWUW and the Indianapolis Vegetarian and Vegan Meetup Group formed a partnership in early 2016. The two organizations jointly manage a Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/MeatlessMondayIN and hope that the resolution helps open the door to promote and implement Meatless Monday programs in school districts, hospitals and other businesses in Indianapolis. “The Indy Veggie Meetup Group membership has increased by 800 percent over the past four years. The number of people choosing vegan diets and cutting back on meat has exploded nationwide and Indianapolis is clearly following that trend,” said Joel Kerr, director of the Indy Veggie Meetup Group. “I’m happy that our city council has recognized this and has taken steps to make sure our city is a leader in promoting vegan diets for the good of our people, the environment and farmed animals.”

“The large demand for animal products has resulted in cruel farming practices, environmental degradation, and chronic health conditions,” said Katelin Rupp of Indy VegFest, Inc. “By working more plant-based meals into their diets each week, Hoosiers can make a big difference.”

By going meatless once a week, an individual can:

  • Reduce their carbon footprint by more than eight pounds per day, as much as not driving for two days
  • Reduce their saturated fat intake by about 15 percent per meatless meal
  • Reduce their risk of cancer, heart disease and diabetes
  • Save approximately 28 land animals and 175 aquatic animals per year

This effort has broad-based support from an array of health-focused, community service, environmental advocacy and animal rights organizations who signed onto the resolution, including the Center of Wellness for Urban Women, Earth Charter Indiana, The Greater Indianapolis NAACP Branch 3053, Growing Places Indy, the Hoosier Environmental Council, the Indiana Animal Rights Alliance, the Indianapolis Vegetarian and Vegan Meetup Group and Indy VegFest Inc., in addition to the Humane Society of the United States, the American Association of Retired Persons and the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

Indianapolis is one of many cities to join the global movement, which was kick-started by the John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in 2003. Similar amendments have recently passed in Cleveland, Minneapolis and Durham, N.C. and school districts and businesses across the country have been partnering with the program to promote healthy, plant-based meals to their students.

For more information on Meatless Mondays in Indianapolis, please contact CWUW at mmindy@cwuwonline.org. For a list of vegan-friendly restaurants in the Indianapolis area, please visit www.indyvegfest.com

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