It's not always easy to be meat-free in Miami. Heck, half the city's bread is infused with lard. But thanks to a progressive mayor and a dedicated volunteer, vegetarianism just got a major boost with the City of South Miami's Meatless Monday resolution.
In official language, it's "in support of comprehensive efforts to protect the environment, our health, and animals, and encouraging residents to participate by choosing meat-free, plant-based meals at least one day a week."
And seriously, who couldn't stand to skip the pork products one day a week?
"I decided this is a good thing," South Miami Mayor Philip K. Stoddard says. "It allows us to suggest to people that they think about their food and that they think about more than just the cost at the checkout counter. It's something many people don't think about at all -- the land costs, the carbon costs, the animal experience costs. Those are all costs."
The initiative was passed with the help of Compassion Over Killing, an animal advocacy group dedicated to end the abuse of animals in agriculture and promoting vegetarian eating. While the organization is based out of Washington, D.C., volunteer Jessica Spain is a Miami resident, and she contacted Mayor Stoddard to get the ball rolling.
"I'm not a vegetarian, but when I started working on this I began thinking more about what I ate. I began paying attention to when I eat meat and the choices I have," Stoddard says. "I do consciously make meals without meat or purchase meals without meat given the choice -- it's a conscious choice. People should be cognizant of what they put in their mouth."
South Miami follows in the footsteps of locales such as Los Angeles, D.C., San Francisco, Philadelphia, and others that have adopted official resolutions in support of once-a-week vegetarianism. Of course, the resolution is a gentle suggestion more than anything else -- there's nothing legislative or binding about it.
It outlines the environmental impact of meat eating, stating, "Recent studies and reports have demonstrated that we can lower our carbon footprint simply by reducing the amount of animal-based foods we eat. Each day you leave meat off your plate, you reduce your carbon footprint by over eight pounds."
It also references the obesity epidemic, the health benefits of vegetarianism, and animal welfare concerns. Solid stuff, and acknowledging these important issues is an impressive step forward for our neck of the woods.
"What do I do for a living? I'm an educator," the mayor adds. "I encourage people to think for a living. Think about this. You don't have to do it, but think about it."
It's the least we can do.
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