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From the Ground Up: Columbia, South Carolina Adopts Meatless Monday

Meatless Monday continues to expand across the country, with municipalities all over the United States pledging to promote plant-based eating as a way to meet sustainability goals and promote public health. But change doesn’t always start with government; on many occasions, progress sprouts from the ground up.

And that’s exactly what happened in Columbia, South Carolina, where every Monday is now officially Meatless Monday, thanks to a city proclamation fueled by a partnership with Let’s Meat Less, an organization advocating plant-based eating. Sue Doran, founder of Let’s Meat Less, chose to advocate for Meatless Monday because of its ease of implementation. “We meet people where they are,” Doran explained to the Free Times. “The idea is to make it no effort, no expense, no change in menu.”

But Doran, a registered dietitian, is taking her Meatless Monday campaign to another level. Besides promoting local restaurants, chefs, and businesses that feature vegetarian and vegan menu items on her website and social media feed @letsmeatless, she is also offering to provide professional food photography of plant-based dishes for any restaurant that participates. In her efforts to unite her community around common goods, Doran also features other local organizations and individuals whether their missions are food-related or not. For example, she filmed a short video featuring a nonprofit service dog training group because they promote human health. Another local nonprofit she plans to feature in a video is The Congaree Riverkeeper, because they focus on decreasing water pollution. A well-known local artist was spotlighted because her environmentally friendly art is created from discarded objects that would otherwise end up in a landfill.

As a result of her efforts, Sue Doran has continued to effect change at the municipal level. Following the city of Columbia’s Meatless Monday proclamation, the county, Richland County, SC, partnered with her nonprofit to also issue a countywide Meatless Monday proclamation. Let’s Meat Less has also collaborated with a number of institutions including the University of South Carolina, which launched Meatless Monday last semester and Benedict College which is launching Meatless Monday on August 16th with a tailgate style cookout and celebration.  The Conservation Voters of South Carolina, a statewide environmental advocacy nonprofit organization where Doran is a board member, will be serving a meatless menu for the first time, at their 13th annual Green Tie Awards Ceremony this year. Let’s Meat Less is the presenting sponsor of the event. There are also plans to bring Meatless Monday to Columbia K-12 schools.

Doran continues to find innovative ways to promote plant-based foods in her community. She has developed a partnership with Impossible Foods, the maker of the plant-based Impossible Burger, securing a donation of 5,000 patties for Harvest Hope Food Bank. Impossible has shared a rebate so local Columbia restaurants could experiment with the product. The plant-based food companies Tofurky and Daiya are also generously contributing to Doran’s Meatless Monday Benedict College launch party.

Want to promote plant-based eating in your community? Click here to find out how you can get involved with the Meatless Monday movement today!

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