Hospitals across the country are individually joining the international movement for “Meatless Mondays.”

The initiative looks to promote good health, improve the environment and save money by reducing the amount of meat consumed globally.

In some hospital kitchens and cafeterias, doing without red meat once a week is an option, but in a growing number, it is a mandatory choice.

In addition to the obvious benefit of lowering costs, Meatless Mondays encourage patients, visitors and employees to reduce their meat consumption.

This lowers their risk of preventable chronic disorders including cardiovascular disease, cancer, obesity and diabetes. Regarding cancer, reducing red meat consumption has been shown to lower the danger of contracting breast, prostate and colon malignancies.

Health experts say avoiding beef also reduces water consumption by cows and use of fossil fuels because of longer cooking times. It is also regarded as humanitarian because it reduces the activity of factory farms and slaughterhouses.

US medical and educational institutions are the leaders in the campaign.

Among the first to sign up for Meatless Mondays in Israel was Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center, where the campaign was promoted by its chief clinical dietitian Dr. Olga Raz, and media star Miki Haimovich.

Dorit Adler, the chief clinical dietitian at Hadassah University Medical Center in Jerusalem’s Ein Kerem neighborhood, said that “Hadassah has a declaration as a healthy and sustainable diet-promoting campus signed by the hospital director, the Hebrew University CEO, the deans of the faculty of medicine and dentistry and the chairman of the Medical Student Union.”

“Our next step is planned for October. The evidence-based research proves again and again that the Mediterranean diet lowers the risks of most of the modern diseases from obesity through diabetes, heart disease and even cognitive impairment. In this diet, red meat is at the top of the pyramid – meaning that the lowest the better,” she said.

“In addition, the carbon print of [producing] meat is a huge problem contributing to the deterioration of the globe to grow the food, even in the near future. So to conclude, I highly support Meatless Monday, and we are also partners for the holistic attitude behind it.”

Tzrifin’s government hospital, the Assaf Harofeh Medical Center, also announced this week that it will serve meatless meals in its cafeterias and dining rooms on Mondays.

The head chef of a leading food company led the planing of a Monday menu.

“If every Israeli went one day a week without meat, the effect on the environment is [the equivalent of] reducing the number of vehicles on the road by half a million,” said Haimovich.

The hospital’s deputy administrative director, Ofir Amir, said it was committed to improving the health of patients and staffers and protecting the environment.

Meanwhile, Jerusalem’s Shaare Zedek Medical Center said that for years, it has offered patients, visitors and staffers red meat “maybe once a week or even less.” The rest of the time it cooks chicken, fish and vegetarian dishes. It has a fish or vegetarian menu on Tuesdays, however, and not Mondays.

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