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Pols Push for Resolution Making NYC Official Promoter of Meatless Mondays

By Emily Frost | January 21, 2015 6:31pm
 City Councilmembers Helen Rosenthal and Corey Johnson are promoting meatless Mondays in a new resolution to go in front of the council. 
Meatless Mondays Initiative
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UPPER WEST SIDE — A pair of politicians is pushing to make New York City an official promoter of Meatless Mondays — a growing movement that calls on diners to forgo eating meat one night a week — despite a major restaurant group criticizing the concept.  

City Councilwoman Helen Rosenthal and Councilman Corey Johnson are co-sponsoring the resolution, which calls for the city to officially promote Meatless Mondays through a sticker campaign and citywide ads and public service announcements. The city would join a list of others that are already supporters, including San Francisco, Los Angeles and Washington, D.C. 

Meatless Mondays, "a catchy phrase that's easy to remember," reduces a person's saturated fat intake when they swap it for a healthy vegetarian meal instead, Rosenthal explained. The initiative also has environmental benefits, as reducing the demand for meat should minimize its production, which is linked to greenhouse gas emissions, she said. 

If passed, the resolution would encourage schools, government agencies, businesses, community organizations and everyone in the city to adopt a meatless diet every Monday, she said. 

"Adding the voice of the City Council will only ensure that even more New Yorkers will personally start their weeks off right while simultaneously catalyzing collective positive change," Johnson added. 

Local chef Bill Telepan, an Upper West Sider and the chef-owner of Telepan, is in favor of the resolution. He has offered a Meatless Mondays menu since May, he said. 

"It encourages people to look at their diet and make changes and think about ways to take better care of themselves," he told DNAinfo New York. 

From a business perspective, it also highlights Telepan's vegetarian options and provides a great opportunity to dine with vegetarian friends, he noted. 

Other New York City chefs, like Mario Batali, have also shared support for the idea, Rosenthal said. Batali did not respond to request for comment. 

However, the New York City Hospitality Alliance, which represents restaurants, bars, and hotels, did not share the same enthusiasm.

"New York City has the greatest diversity of restaurants and patrons in the world and we don’t think it's appropriate for government to pass legislation encouraging people not to eat a certain type of food on a certain day," said Andrew Rigie, the alliance's executive director. 

To the contrary, Rosenthal argued that it's a way for restaurants to generate buzz and business on a typically slow night.  

The resolution will be introduced to the Council Thursday before being voted on by the Health Committee, of which Johnson is chairman. If approved, it will head to the full City Council for a vote. 

CORRECTION: A previous version of the story said that Telepan would be speaking at an upcoming City Council hearing on the proposed resolution. He will not be. DNAinfo regrets the error.