Meatless Mondays for Community Health & Climate Justice!

I challenge all of us meat eaters to have a meatless Monday every Monday!  I have done it before, mostly in community potlucks where friends and colleagues got together at a local veteran artist’s home here in Fresno.  It was delicious because the vegetarian food was coming from different cultures and flavors.  I grew up with my mom engineering some of the best Mexican medicine which, on the most part, is vegetarian.  I love going back home!  Of course I speak of beans, rice, nopales or as we like to affectionately call ’em, nopalitos (cactus), calabacitas, garbanzos, lentejas, verdulagas, chile molcajete, pico de gallo, tortillas and much, much more!

Did you know that tomatoe, chile, potatos, nopales, squash, maiz are all indigenous to the Americas! We have been dining on these vitals for many millenia!  Also, meat was never an everyday meal, on the most part, for indigenous nations.  As with the Purepecha in Michoacan, we never ate pork until after spanish colonization.  Now, Michoacan is famous for its Carnitas (Pork meat cooked in its own lard).  My mom taught me early on to not dig swine, an experience with carnitas fortified my boycott.  The more popular meat that was eaten by my Purepecha folks was fish at a time when the land had more lakes/water.  Hence, the Mexicas or Aztecs called the Purepecha’s land Michoacan, land of the fishermen.  The name stuck and we are very proud of it!  That is to say that many of the people’s that identify with indigenous roots in this continent or another have a cultural claim to healthy vegetarian food and not over consume and exploit meat.  I like to call it the de-colonization of my person.  It is not easy but it is possible.  Let’s start with one day a week, together as a community.

Just recently, Rajendra Pachauri, chair of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), shared with media sources that people should start by having one meat-free day per week then cut back further. I think one Meatless Monday Community Potluck would be ideal for numerous reasons.  First, it will initiate healthy habits that will reflect on self and on mother earth in a positive manner.  Second, it can become a celebration of community, health and our environment while strengthening ties between families in our communities which have to some extent become strangers to each other and therefore have allowed the slipping of a community culture to succesfully raise a child.  Third, it will be delicious and who knows what can grow out of a healthy gathering of good intentioned folks and creative minds.  Be a rebel, give it a try!


Rey Leon, el LEAPer


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