Monday, March 31, 2014

Meatless Monday TED Talk!

One of my favorite things to do over a rainy weekend, like the one that just passed, is to stay in bed all day, and watch TED Talks. For those not familiar with TED Talks, they are short, and powerful speeches used to convey stories and research to inspire, motivate and challenge ideas. Not only are the concepts that are spoken about interesting, but the speakers themselves are amazing as well. They are so engaging, and captivating to watch. It's amazing to see how videos most often under 18 minutes long, can be so compelling. It always reminds me of the power of storytelling, and how much of an impact we can make just by using our ability to convey our thoughts into a narrative.

About a month ago, there was a TED Talk in Manhattan that was entitled "Changing the Way We Eat". For this TED Talk conference, speakers from all different walks of life came together to discuss the cultural, nutritional, social, sustainable, and culinary aspects that affect our current food systems. Each speaker had their own perspective based on their own background and experience, and therefore offered their own unique suggestions as to how we can better improve the food systems we currently use. But, beyond the issues that surround food, there was another overwhelming message of versatility. Everyone that spoke at the convention was passionate about the very same thing, but through each speech, and each concept introduced, there was an interesting angle explored that brought up a completely new side to the conversation. One TED Talk that really explored this concept well was a talk done by president of the Meatless Monday, Peggy Neu.

As you might imagine, her talk did begin with the history of Meatless Monday. How in fact, it was created pretty much by mistake. Founder Sid Lerner was speaking at a health and nutrition conference at John Hopkins University about the importance of lowering saturated fats in the diet for improved heart health. In that speech he suggested cutting out meat once a week as a means of reducing saturated fat intake. He was inspired by his "boyscout days" during World War II where civilians where encouraged to help the war efforts by cutting out different foods during the week, such as Wheat-less Wednesday, and Meatless Monday. It was this simple concept, that spurred the now successful movement of Meatless Monday.

But, the bulk of her talk was devoted to explaining why Meatless Monday has turned into a success. One of the major reasons being that the movement was developed as an "open source" movement. Meaning that the movement was spread, not in a top-down hierarchical fashion, but encouraged to be integrated into already existing movements. In other words, instead of having a "Meatless Monday" how-to, the movement was made popular because it allowed organization to customize the goals of Meatless Monday to meet their own mission and objectives.

I really liked this speech because I think it really captured the idea of why Meatless Monday has been able to become such a successful campaign. Although for the purposes of this blog, we tend to focus on the sustainability aspects of Meatless Monday, there are many categories that Meatless Monday falls under. The issues surrounding food justice are as vast, as they are interconnected. Hunger, food waste, nutrition, and sustainability all work hand-in-hand to create a more efficient systems that works to feed the people of our planet with nutritious, sustaining food now, that will not comprise our ability to do so in the future. It is a complex and complicated issue and if we want to come up with solution we need to come together and consider multiple perspectives and angles. And one of the best ways we can start to accomplish this, is by starting the conversation.

Which brings me back to why I love TED Talks so much. Just like a movement can be spurred by a simple idea, people can be motivated by a simple conversation. But, you don't need a stage and a audience to start a dialogue. If these are issues that matter to you, speak up about them. Talk about them with your friends and family at the dinner table. Discuss these issues during a lecture or class. Attend presentations on campus, or talk to someone who is tabling. The reason we blog about Meatless Monday every Monday is in hopes that we can inspire a new dialogue about why we care about the issues surrounding Meatless Monday, and why we think you should, too. So, if these issues are something that matter to you, try starting a dialogue today.

(If you'd like to watch the whole Meatless Monday TED Talk by Peggy Neu, click the link here:

Happy Meatless Monday,

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