By. Kate Watts, food policy coordinator with The Humane Society of the United States


It’s officially holiday season, and regardless of how you celebrate, we can all agree that there’s always something very important at the center of it: food. Whether its grandma’s traditional casserole or Cousin Connie’s pumpkin pies, we look forward to making and eating our usual go-to for the season. These traditions can often put us into auto-pilot with regard to food and we may overlook the effect our holiday meals have on our health, environmental sustainability, and the number of animals raised in factory farming conditions.


Green Schools are acutely aware of the importance in providing education and resources to their students to broaden their perspectives. This month offers a perfect opportunity to share how what we eat affects our health and our planet, and how “going green” this season, and in other seasons onward, can have an impact in ways students may not have considered.


Meatless Monday is an easy, green initiative that countless schools across the country have launched to educate their students on the importance of taking a holiday from meat once a week.  In particular, these schools are instilling eating habits that benefit animals, the environment, and our health.


When it comes to environmental sustainability, the numbers don’t lie: According to Environmental Defense Fund, “If every American skipped one meal of chicken per week and substituted vegetables and grains…the carbon dioxide savings would be the same as taking more than half a million cars off of U.S. roads.” And, according to a Carnegie Mellon University study, eating plant-based meals is even better for the environment than buying local.


With childhood obesity on the rise, there’s no denying the importance of a plant-based diet:  the Johns buy ambien cr 12.5 mg Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health found a strong link between meat consumption and obesity. A later study by the Cleveland Clinic showed that obese school children with high cholesterol who were put on a plant-based diet lost weight and reduced their cholesterol, all after just a month. A simple step like taking a holiday from meat once a week can be the gift that keeps on giving for a lifetime of healthier habits for our students.  The Humane Society of the United States offers recipes like a delicious Mighty Marinara with chickpeas, or Nutty Noodles. A protein packed veggie chili is a great go-to and you can never go wrong with bean tacos.


Promoting and offering delicious plant-based meals for Meatless Mondays is an easy and delicious way to show students how everyday food choices affect our health and the planet, as well as decrease our reliance on factory farmed animals. Here at The Humane Society of the United States, we encourage the three R’s: “reducing” or “replacing” consumption of animal products with plant-based foods and “refining” our diets by choosing products from sources using higher animal welfare standards.


As Green Schools across the country embark upon “empowering students to develop sustainable behaviors, enabling them to become stewards of the future,” we’re here to offer free resources and recipes along the way. This holiday season, share the benefits of taking a holiday from meat once a week. After all, ‘tis always the right season to go green.


Kate Watts is a food policy coordinator with The Humane Society of the United States. She provides free resources and strategic planning for institutions to effectively feed their guests healthier, more sustainable, and ethical menu options. She can be reached at or 215-356-4900.