Meatless Monday – a Movement 100 Years in the Making

Posted by National Honey Board on January 25, 2021

Creamy Honey Ramen Noodles cropped
Creamy Honey Ramen Noodles

We’ve all seen it in our social media feeds - #MeatlessMonday. While it may seem like an idea that began recently, this movement is actually over 100 years in the making! This week we decided to dive deep into the interwebs to learn more about the Meatless Monday campaign and are sharing some of our favorite meatless honey recipes that we hope will inspire you, no matter why you may choose the meatless route.


100 Years in the Making – Meet Meatless Tuesday

What feels like a modern movement actually has its root deeply rooted in history. During World War I, President Woodrow Wilson asked future President Herbert Hoover to lead the newly formed wartime Food Administration. In this time many Europeans were struggling to feed themselves as much of their agricultural land had become the battlefields and the men who tended them were now solders. With their allies (and our own solders) in such need, Hoover’s United States Food Administration (USFA) took immediate action declaring “Food will win the war!” In an effort to avoid wartime food rationing, Hoover and Wilson called on the American people to conserve vital food products on a voluntary basis – a move that proved successful, resulting in a 15% reduction in home consumption of meat, wheat, sugar, and fat in a year. To many it felt like their patriotic duty to participate in -less days, with over 11 million families signing a pledge to observe Wheatless Wednesday and Meatless Tuesday (that’s right, we said Tuesday).

It is said that this movement led to the birth of modern food science, as the U.S. government used this science to educate consumers what foods could provide the nutrients they were now eliminating, such as protein-rich nuts and dairy in place of red meat1. There is no doubt that these -less movements changed Americans’ perspectives on what could make up a dinner plate and, ultimately, how American’s eat. You can learn more about how Meatless and Wheatless days changed the American way of eating here.

The movement resurfaced during World War II, when Presidents Roosevelt and Truman encouraged women at home to support the war effort by returning to Meatless Tuesday. At this time rationing was very much the reality as there were limits placed on commodities like meat, sugar and gasoline. Again, the campaign proved successful, allowing America to send over food to support our troops and the people of a Europe ravaged by war. So what happened to the movement following the war?


Meatless Monday – 100 Years Later

Following WWII, the Meatless and Wheatless days seemed to have gone dormant for decades, until the early 2000s. This time, instead of battling the scarcity of meat, the Meatless Monday movement is taking on the battle of too much in the American diet. In 2003, the Monday Campaigns, in partnership with John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, resurrected Meatless days as a way to encourage Americans to consume less meat. The newly-minted “Meatless Monday” focuses on “health, nutrition, the environment and animal welfare,”2 and is practiced in 40 countries around the world by chefs, schools, and restaurants3. Learn more about the Meatless Monday movement today and the history that inspired it here.

Whether you participate in Meatless Mondays or forgo meat altogether, we could all use a little inspiration in the kitchen. With its delicious flavors and functional benefits, honey is a perfect fit for just about any meatless meal, and today we are sharing some of our favorites – check them out below!

We want to hear from you! What are your favorite meatless meals? Tell us in the comments below.


Resources:

1Lee, Diana. “The 100-Year-Old Story Behind Meatless Monday.” FineDinningLovers.com, 7 Jan. 2019, https://www.finedininglovers.com/article/100-year-old-story-behind-meatless-monday.

2Avey, Tori. “Discover the History of Meatless Mondays.” PBS Food, 16 Aug. 2013, https://www.pbs.org/food/the-history-kitchen/history-meatless-mondays/.

3The Monday Campaigns. "About Meatless Monday - Meatless Monday." The Monday Campaigns, 28 July 2020, https://www.mondaycampaigns.org/meatless-monday/about.

4Wikipedia contributors. “Meatless Monday.” Wikipedia, 26 Dec. 2020, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meatless_Monday.