A growing number of cafés and restaurants in New Zealand are joining the global Meat Free Monday movement, which encourages people to reduce their meat consumption for their health and the planet. The initiative, launched by Paul, Mary and Stella McCartney in 2009, has been gaining momentum in the country, with more than 100 eateries participating so far.
According to the Meat Free Monday website, skipping meat one day a week can have significant benefits for the environment, as animal agriculture is a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, water pollution, deforestation, and biodiversity loss. The website also cites research that shows that eating less meat can lower the risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and some cancers.
One of the participants in the movement is the Green Time café in Auckland, which serves vegan and gluten-free dishes made from locally sourced ingredients. The owner, Jenny Ha, said that she wanted to offer customers a delicious and sustainable alternative to meat-based meals. “We want to show people that vegan food can be tasty, satisfying, and good for you and the planet,” she said. “We also want to support local farmers and producers who are doing their best to reduce their environmental impact.”
The challenges and opportunities of running a meat-free business
Running a meat-free café or restaurant is not without its challenges, especially in a country where meat is a staple of the national cuisine. Some of the obstacles include sourcing quality ingredients, catering to diverse dietary preferences, and educating customers about the benefits of plant-based eating.
However, there are also many opportunities and rewards for those who take the plunge. For instance, The Botanist café in Wellington, which joined the Meat Free Monday campaign in 2018, has seen a steady increase in its customer base and revenue. The café offers a range of vegetarian and vegan dishes, as well as organic coffee and tea, and hosts regular events and workshops on topics such as gardening, composting, and cooking. The owner, Sarah Scott, said that she was inspired by the positive feedback and support from the community. “We have a lot of regulars who come every Monday, and some who come every day,” she said. “We also have a lot of new customers who are curious about our menu and want to try something different. We are very happy to be part of this movement and to make a difference in our own way.”
The future of meat-free eating in New Zealand
The Meat Free Monday movement in New Zealand is supported by several organizations, such as the New Zealand Vegetarian Society, the Vegan Society of Aotearoa, and the Safe Animal Advocacy group. These groups provide resources, information, and guidance to cafés and restaurants that want to join the campaign, as well as to individuals who want to reduce their meat intake.
The movement is also backed by some celebrities and influencers, such as the singer Lorde, the actor Sam Neill, and the chef Nadia Lim, who have endorsed the campaign and shared their meat-free recipes and tips on social media. The campaign hopes to reach more people and businesses in the country, and to inspire them to adopt a more plant-based lifestyle.
The Meat Free Monday website states that the goal of the movement is to “raise awareness of the detrimental environmental impact of animal agriculture and industrial fishing and encourage a more sustainable way of living”. The website also invites people to sign up for the campaign and receive weekly newsletters, recipes, and news. The website says that “by joining together in skipping meat for one day a week, we can make a huge difference for our planet and our health”.