April 12, 2010

The Johns Hopkins Hospital launches Meatless Monday

The Johns Hopkins Hospital is launching a campaign today to encourage healthier eating among patients, visitors and staff: Meatless Monday.

Every Monday the hospital’s renovated Cobblestone Café will offer only vegetarian meal options at its Wellness Corner to promote the benefits of eating more grains, fruits and vegetables. Meals containing meat will still be available in other areas of the cafeteria.

“I’m looking forward to helping customers learn that they’re not sacrificing taste by eating vegetarian meals,” says executive chef Shawn Fields, whose vegetarian chili is already a mainstay at the Wellness Corner.

The national Meatless Monday campaign was launched in 2003 in association with the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future. The effort’s primary focus is to reduce the consumption of saturated fat by 15 percent, following the recommendations of the “Healthy People 2010” report issued by then U.S. Surgeon General David Satcher. 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.

“While eating meat a few days a week can be a healthy part of your diet, most Americans eat much more than the USDA recommends,” says Robert Lawrence, director of the Center for a Livable Future. According to CLF, the latest U.S. Department of Agriculture statistics show that men in this country consume as much as 190 percent of their recommended daily allowance of protein, and women as much as 160 percent. Americans derive the majority of their protein from meat and other animal sources.

The 2005 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, appointed by the departments of Health and Agriculture, stated that people who eat more fruits and vegetables as part of a healthy diet are “likely to have reduced risk of chronic diseases, including stroke and perhaps other cardiovascular diseases, type 2 diabetes and cancers in certain sites.”

JHH’s dining services are managed by Sodexo. The Cobblestone Café serves about 1,800 customers a day.