A couple of weeks ago I was at a community event when I ran into Sola Pallotta, owner of the Very Virginia Shop and one of our Loudoun Meatless Monday partners. “Did you see the article about Meatless Monday in the Leesburg Today?” she asked. Her question took me completely by surprise. Even though I had yet to read the paper, it seemed to me that I would have had some prior knowledge of any such article. Or written it myself. In fact, none of the folks involved in the launch of Loudoun Meatless Mondays had anything to do with the piece, entitled Embrace Loudoun’s Meatless Monday with Soy by Samantha Bartram.
It was a thoughtful article that addressed the challenge that going meatless – even for one day a week – presented to some people. It also offered practical “how to” tips by demystifying the practice of cooking with those oft joked about vegetarian staples, tofu and texturized vegetable protein (TVP.) (Though truthfully, most vegetarians admit to going through an initial phase of purchasing blocks of tofu, only to later throw them out after letting them sit untouched for months in their refrigerators. Newbies generally have more success with simple dishes like bean burritos, stir fries, veggie chili, meatless pasta and Boca burgers.) My favorite part of this article, however, was that its writing was unprompted by anyone with a stake in the original campaign. Which meant only one thing: our movement had momentum.
People were talking about it. Many were really trying to get on board with it. And while some may still be struggling a bit to embrace it, there was little doubt that “Meatless Monday” had become part of the Loudoun lexicon. Fantastic! Because the first step in any cultural change is building awareness, and we were clearly succeeding on that front.
A few weeks earlier I had a similar experience at a local farmers’ market, where I was doing a vegan cooking demonstration. A woman named Karen introduced herself to me and said she was trying to start a Meatless Monday initiative in her company. Wow, I thought, not only was the campaign taking hold among the residents of Loudoun County, it was beginning to sprout up in the business community as well. For this we owe a debt of thanks to the Loudoun Chamber of Commerce and our local government for recognizing the environmental benefit of initiatives like Meatless Monday in this year’s Green Business Challenge. Karen’s company was a winner in last year’s Challenge and is clearly committed to environmental stewardship. Whether or not it officially adopts a Meatless Monday campaign, the fact that the idea is being discussed and considered within a large multi-national company like Karen’s is a clear signal that the movement has truly taken off.