Meatless Monday Sri Lanka initiated in 2015 and has since grown leaps and bounds with the expansion of its outreach both on a national and international scale. 2017 has been a great year for Meatless Monday Sri Lanka, with the project reaching out to various like-minded organisations in diverse collaborations and partnerships to organise various events and campaigns with the aim of promoting meatless and humane lifestyles in Sri Lanka.
One of the main events for the year which enabled the campaign’s outreach to elevate to a national level was the 2nd Asian Buddhist Animal Rights Conference held at the Buddhist Cultural Center in Colombo, in October 2017. The conference was organized by the Anagarika Dharamapala Humanitarian Foundation together with Dharma Voices for Animals (DVA) and Meatless Monday Sri Lanka. One of the key features of the event was the “pledge to be meatless” carried out by the Meatless Monday Sri Lanka campaign inviting all participants to sign a pledge to go meatless, starting Mondays. Participants, including school children signed the pledge agreeing to abstain from meat and dairy products, at least once a week.
“Youth Forum on Climate Change” (YFCC) was another noteworthy event of the campaign’s calendar which drew attention to our engagement with the Ministry of Mahaweli Development and Environment and the Climate Change Secretariat (CCS). The YFCC also highlights youth engagement in the campaign’s activities as it caters to young academics and professionals in aiding them to develop solutions to climate change and educates them on the importance of shifting towards meatless lifestyles. For two consecutive years, Meatless Monday has contributed to the organizing of the Youth Forum on Climate Change as part of the Sri Lanka NEXT Blue-Green Era Conference and Exhibition held in October. The national level event was successful in drawing attention to the importance of meatless consumption as well as production pattern in light of the environmental benefits and personal well-being.
Other events that highlighted the role of youth in providing leadership to communicate the message of Meatless Monday, were the “Youth4Youth” programme organized by United Nations Population Fund; the event on “Effective Engagement of Youth for Sustainable Development”, which was organised as part of the Government’s “Vision for a Sustainable Era”; and the “Peace Expo and Colombo Food Fest 2017”. These events underscored the importance of meatless lifestyles in the context of achieving Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the engagement of youth as advocates of the message of Meatless Monday.
As part of the international exposure of the Meatless Monday outreach 2017, the campaign was featured at both the Conference of Youth (COY13) and the Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), where the work of the campaign was shared with global audiences.
The 13th Conference of Youth (COY13) was held from the 2nd to the 4th of November in Bonn, Germany under the theme of “Talanoa Mada- Youth Accelerating Climate Action”. Meatless Monday was featured at SLYCAN Trust’s event with the aim of creating awareness on the importance of sustainable lifestyles to address climate change and the need to adopt meatless lifestyles. In addition, an action station was dedicated for Meatless Monday during the COY13 with educational and promotional material of the campaign. Youth who visited our stall were given an introduction to the campaign and its work in Sri Lanka, in order to encourage them to recognize the importance of meatless lifestyles as both a solution to climate change and as a means of humane living, and were encouraged to replicate the campaign in their respective countries.
Our restaurant outreach is an integral component of the campaign and aims to support producers of meatless food and create awareness on the various meatless food options available for consumers by highlighting restaurants that showcase vegan or vegetarian food. For 2017, we were able to create a significant impact in terms of influencing consumers to shift towards consuming more meatless food options through various competitions, events and food promotions being organised in partnership with diverse meatless food producers which included five-star restaurants as well as home-based entrepreneurs.
Our partnership with the Galle Face Hotel and Mount Lavinia Hotel, two of the premier hotels in Colombo were some of the key highlights for the year. The Vegan Week which was one of the main events under this category, was held in partnership with Galle Face Hotel in the month of November. The Vegan Week included a vegan spread for the dinner buffet along with a workshop. Chef Tora Olsson from Sweden was invited especially for the Vegan Week, and conducted the vegan culinary workshop, sharing with the audience easy vegan recipes as a solution for healthy consumption on a busy schedule. The workshop was also able to influence the general attitudes of people towards vegan food as bland and tasteless.
Through the various promotions and competitions organised in 2017, Meatless Monday campaign also attempted to create awareness on meatless lifestyles and to develop entrepreneurship through the provision of publicity and sponsorships to a number of home-based business owners as well as restaurants. We have collaborated with Vegan Sri Lanka, Fit Sugar, Smokey’s and the Vegan Kitchen’s Coffee Lounge in hosting stalls at fairs and exhibitions and various social media competitions targeting the promotion of meatless lifestyles and meatless food producers.
The social media outreach of the Meatless Monday Sri Lanka campaign continues to thrive with each passing year. The campaign is active on the social media sites of Facebook and Instagram as well as on the Meatless Monday Sri Lanka blog. At the end of 2017, we have a total of 7,700 followers on our Facebook page. The campaign targeted posts which were shared every Monday with regular updates on social media to create awareness on the implications of meatless diets.
With the impressive growth of the campaign in 2017, the call to go meatless starting Mondays as an activity that everybody can commit to was amplified. In 2018, the campaign hopes to continue its activities engaging multiple stakeholders to create a concrete impact in communicating awareness on the importance of meatless lifestyles, in the context of sustainable development, mitigating climate change, promoting animal welfare as well as for the improvement personal well-being.