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Mix it up with Meatless Monday

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CNY/NNY/S. Tier: Mix it up with Meatless Monday
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Trying to decide what to make for dinner? How about something without meat? The Meatless Monday campaign is gaining attention nationwide. The program has some roots in Syracuse and our Kat De Maria visited an enthusiastic new participant: St. Joseph's Hospital.

SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- If you're visiting or working at St. Joseph's Hospital in Syracuse and stop by the cafeteria, you may notice there's a lot more to eat than hamburgers and chicken tenders.

"Today we're offering a stuffed shell. We're offering a grilled veggie wrap. And we have several other sandwiches and other options for customers," said Nutritional Services Director James Nicolosi.

If you noticed none of those options include meat, you're on to something and so is St. Joe's. The hospital is one of the newest participants in Meatless Monday, a national campaign started downstate and promoted by three universities, including SU, through the Lerner Center.

"Monday, the whole notion of Monday is built around the psychology of Monday, the whole idea that people decide to go on a diet, start to exercise, do something good for themselves. Monday is kind of your restart button. It's the January of your week, if you will," said Lerner Center Director Tom Dennison.

It follows then that Monday is a good time to cut your saturated fats and try new foods. Promoters say families are becoming more aware of the campaign and restaurants, like Pascale's, are getting involved. Staff at St. Joe's says they're having success with Meatless Monday so far.

"If you just take that one day a week, it really doesn't make a huge difference if you're used to eating meat. I would also say start with comfort foods or vegetarian items you're used to," Nicolosi said.

There has been controversy recently surrounding Meatless Monday, with some people labeling the program "anti-meat." But proponents and participants say it merely means eating this along with other options.

"It's not prescriptive. It's not that we should do without meat. It's that we should think about alternatives," Dennison said.

St. Joe's executive chef is even seen cooking up some alternatives on a new video put out by the campaign: All in an effort to get more people eating a more balanced diet.

Meatless Monday is one of several Healthy Monday campaigns. To learn more about them and get recipes, tips and more, visit healthymonday.syr.edu.

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