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Green Hotel Movement Urges Meatless Mondays

Going meat-free one day a week at your hotel is a great way to promote your environmental commitment.

Monday, May 10, 2010
Caryn Eve Murray
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In San Francisco, the move constituted a quiet wake-up call, but a wake-up call just the same: The city’s Board of Supervisors unanimously passed a nonbinding resolution, urging residents and businesses alike to observe Meatless Monday. The vote, which the lawmakers took earlier this month, aligned San Francisco with the movement going on in Toronto and elsewhere in Canada, making the progressive California city the first in the U.S. to approve such a measure.

This clear call to green business and green living isn’t without precedent. Meatless Monday became a national campaign during World War I, when Americans were urged to reduce their meat consumption to conserve resources. Meatlessness again became an act of patriotism during World War II, when recycling and rationing were widespread.

The war that’s raging now is an attempt to combat a less visible, more disparate enemy: the nation’s ever-enlarging carbon footprint.

And while there are no sanctions for businesses or anyone else who don’t comply, Meatless Monday makes good common sense, particularly for hotels wanting to anchor themselves with a green identity, said Michelle Revuelta, director of media relations for the Toronto Convention and Visitors Bureau.

“In terms of the green movement, well, a lot of restaurants and hotels already use local ingredients and produce, and their chefs promote the sustainable movement throughout Canada,” she said. Meatless Monday is, she said, the next logical step.

But there are no statistics being kept on how this movement has affected the city’s travel and tourism industry.

“It is, after all,” she said, “just a suggestion. It’s a nice feel-good feeling.”

In fact, in San Francisco there was little discernible opposition to the measure in the weeks before its passage, according to Alice Guidry, legislative assistant to Sophie Maxwell, the supervisor – a vegetarian - who introduced it the board.
“If it was a law, it would have to be enforced and I am sure we would have had a lot of opposition from the hotel industry and from restaurant owners,” Guidry said. “You’d have people saying, ‘Why can’t I serve meat on Monday?’ “
But suggestion or not, some hotels and restaurants are taking it a little more seriously – as much for its good public relations value as for its usefulness in underscoring an unequivocal and enviable green stance.

One of them is the Orchard Garden Hotel, which had been built a little more than three years ago to meet the standards developed by the U.S. Green Building Council, and which adheres to such green practices as recycling, chemical-free cleaning and a tobacco-free environment.

“I think as far as being a green business, and me being a green ambassador, I watch for things like this,” said Jim Bruels, Orchard Hotels’ director of business travel. He said the Meatless Monday vote “plays a little bit of a stronger role for us in this hotel” than in its sister property, the nearby Orchard Hotel.

“Is it a great promotional idea? Yes,” he said. “Is it going to work in the city [throughout the industry]? Not necessarily.”

Even within the two hotels, the chefs’ responses to the measure have differed.

Chef Jason Gaskins at Roots, inside the Orchard Garden, “is one-hundred percent backing this idea totally,” he said. “Roots is more geared to being a locavore, and everything within 500 miles is definitely utilized within roots. The chef is drawn to more organic farming and working with smaller farms.”

As for Meatless Mondays, said Bruels, Gaskins “bought into this idea 100 percent and is creating vegan and vegetarian items that he is going to feature on Mondays in his promotion.”

Chef Jeramiah Wheeless at Daffodil, inside the Orchard Hotel, “definitely understands the promotional idea for Meatless Mondays and the political issues that are driving it: more awareness in schools for plant-based foods, the need to be more earth-friendly,” said Bruels.

“But at the same time, here we are in a city that is a culinary capital and for us to adopt a principle like this is a very challenging thing, not only because we are a culinary capital but because of the demands the public makes on restaurants.”

Daffodil, which has more of a French influence, needs to be able to call upon every ingredient it may need every day of the week, he said. And yes, that includes meat.

“Both our chefs were absolutely following this story as much as I did,” said Bruels. “Obviously, this is their industry and I would expect they would be looking at things like this.”

Bruels said the Meatless Monday movement is not without merit but should be taken in perspective as a tool, not a mandate.

“San Francisco has some pretty phenomenal vegan and vegetarian-only restaurants, and I can see them using this as a platform to maybe move more into the limelight and step up on their soapbox and say ‘See? This is what I have been talking about.’

“But as an industry as a whole in San Francisco, well, how many James Beard nominations has the city received? I think [full compliance] would be like trying to rein in a teenager that has been running wild. That’s how you have to think about it.

“But I think Meatless Monday is a wonderful idea and a great way to bring public consciousness to something. It opens up a door.”
Caryn Eve Murray
Associate Editor
Hotel Interactive® Editorial Division

Bio: Caryn Eve Murray is a freelance writer and an assistant editor on the news desk at Newsday on Long Island. During her tenure as a business writer for New York Newsday, she covered the city's small business community for which she won the Distinguished Business Reporting Award of Excellence from the New York Newspaper Publishers Association. She has also been a feature columnist and writer and has ...
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RE: Green Hotel Movement Urges Meatless Mondays article link
How is going meatless on Monday going green? What resources specifically are we reducing when we go "meatless".

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