Put Down That Kielbasa! Cleveland Has Officially Declared ‘Meatless Mondays’

For many years, Cleveland was known as a “meat and potatoes” town culinarily. Its Eastern European immigrants brought their schnitzel, kielbasa, bratwurst, and chicken paprikash.

Things started to change in the late ’80s. Restaurants began to look at the quality of their ingredients and to source them locally from farmers who used sustainable practices. This focus on food has created a move toward vegetarian and even vegan diets.

Even a big, bustling super-pub like Ohio City’s Townhall Urban Café has a vegan menu, which it expands on its Vegan Monday. Lakewood gastropub Deagan’s Kitchen & Bar offers its special vegan menu on Wednesdays (It’s closed on Mondays). And places like Lakewood’s Root Café and the Flaming Ice Cube on Public Square are vegan-friendly all the time (Flaming Ice Cube is all vegan, while the Root Café is vegetarian.)

Meatless Monday is actually a decade-old international campaign to get people to think more about eating healthy, something many Clevelanders could still stand to do, despite the increase in farmers markets, community gardens, and urban farms here.

Now Cleveland City Council has made it an official thing. This past week it passed resolution no. 1065-14, sponsored by councilman Joe Cimperman, who was the force behind the “chicken and bees” ordinance and many other measures to fuel the growth of urban farming.

The resolution declares that “the City of Cleveland recognizes the benefits of a diet high in fruits and vegetables and urges residents to participate in Meatless Mondays to improve their health and decrease their carbon footprint.”

The resolution lists the benefits of decreasing meat consumption and praises steps already being taken to do so. It refers to the resource-intensive practices of CAFOs (Confined Animal Feeding Operations) and the GMO feed these animals consume and gives a shout-out to farmers who engage in sustainable practice, as well as work that the Cleveland Clinic and the Cleveland Food Bank are doing to encourage a healthier diet.

The resolution, which Mayor Frank Jackson signed and made official, doesn’t come out of the blue. Since 2009, the city has been pushing for sustainable practices in multiple areas under its Sustainable Cleveland 2019 program.

No, Joe Cimperman isn’t going to knock on your door next Monday to see if you’re having a hamburger. But the resolution provides some (hopefully vegetarian) food for thought.

Photo: Volunteers from the Albert M. Higley Co. helps harvest collards at the Trinity Cathedral Urban Farm, which raises organic produce to feed hungry and homeless people in Cleveland. Photo by Anastasia Pantsios

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