Mario Batali supports Meatless Mondays in his Restaurants… NOT!!!

10 May

I recently read through an email I received from the Meatless Mondays campaign people that Mario Batali now joins the Meatless Mondays movement by offering at least 2 vegetarian options in all his 14 restaurants across the US every Monday.



This is the quote straight from the press release:

“The fact is, most people in the U.S. eat way more meat than is good for them or the planet,” maintains Batali. “Asking everyone to go vegetarian or vegan isn’t a realistic or attainable goal. But we can focus on a more plant-based diet, and support the farmers who raise their animals humanely and sustainably. That’s why I’m such a big believer in the Meatless Monday movement.”

“Every Monday, there will be at least 2 vegetarian dishes served, such as pasta or pizza.”


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Initially sounds like a great idea and initiative… no?  Hey, big chef Mario Batali is making this big statement.  However, when you think about it in detail… is it really???

I don’t think so!!!!!

 I like the exposure the Meatless Monday is getting by associating with Mario Batali.  And in all honesty, I like Mario Batali’s TV shows, his recipes and hey, I have eaten at several of his restaurants already…  However, committing to have at least 2 options in a menu, which on average has between 60 and 70 items to choose from, represents a mere 3% out of the total menu options without counting desserts.  Not a big change or statement in my opinion. 

 To me, ANY successful restaurant that wants to cater to a wide audience should AT LEAST have 2-3 vegetarian/meatless options EVERY DAY!!! Not just on Mondays…  I know I like to eat out any day of the week.  I am sure all other vegetarians also feel this way…   And please notice I say vegetarian-suitable options, not just meatless… because the vegetable soup made with chicken stock or the pasta made with pancetta drippings or veal stock does not count and does not qualify to be on the Meatless Mondays list, in my humble opinion.

 Now, if Mario would have said ALL 14 restaurants, or maybe even just some of them, ONLY OFFER vegetarian/meatless dishes all-day Monday, every Monday, now that’s an initiative truly embracing the Meatless Monday’s concept.  Eradicating meat dishes from all restaurants on Mondays would demonstrate his true commitment and would make a real statement and impact on the environment and on public opinion.   But just 2 dishes on each menu?????  Give me a break…

 And why does Meatless Mondays agree to this??  Just to ride on the curtails of Mario Batali’s fame and media-draw?? 

“We’re delighted that Maestro Mario is helping to move the movement,” declares Sid Lerner, founder and chairman of Meatless Monday, an initiative of The Monday Campaigns. “If anybody can entice meat lovers to enjoy their veggies as well, it’s Batali!”

Because if I were Sid Lerner, I would try to work my charm to convince Mario to go big or go home.  I think the statement above is just using Batali’s fame to promote the movement.  And not lobbying to get Mario and his restaurants to do more is just wimpy in my opinion.

 And a question I would like to pose Mario himself…  Do you embrace Meatless Monday in your personal daily diet??  Do you cook meatless dishes every Monday at home?  Do you teach your children that meat-products are not necessary in a healthy daily diet and that they’ll start with Meatless Mondays??

 Now that’s something inquiring minds like me want to know…   Please feel free to share your comments about this news here.  I will make sure the Meatless Monday people get the message from me and you.

 Thanks in advance.

7 Responses to “Mario Batali supports Meatless Mondays in his Restaurants… NOT!!!”

  1. Elizabeth May 10, 2010 at 11:50 pm #

    I agree,more than 2 dishes need 2 be vegan/vegetarian. Meatless Mondays should go ALL THE WAY! Do we adults even realize that the human race is the ONLY species drinking milk as adults. Yuk. We don’t NEED it. We have been brain washed by farmers trying to use cows for more than just beef. I say,” go 4 Joy,drink soy” !!

    • Laura N. May 11, 2010 at 10:02 am #

      I hate to disagree with you on this one, but I believe that Mario Batali’s endorsement of Meatless Mondays is a step in the right direction… even if you regard it as too small a step. Rome wasn’t built in a day, after all.
      Yes, ideally he could offer a greater number of vegetarian dishes on Mondays, but I don’t believe Batali’s endorsement should automatically mean he has to significantly or radically alter his restaurants’ offerings in all or some of his locations—which would be inadvisable, marketing wise. I believe it’s best to start with small changes so your core audience can adjust and feel confident enough to try something “new”—in this case a meatless dish on a Monday. I would just slowly keep adding meatless alternatives to the menu on Mondays… and quietly/tastefully incorporate to my regular menu the vegetarian dishes my clientele seems to prefer.

      • Otra Adriana May 11, 2010 at 11:06 am #

        I generally agree with you Laura. All the publicity generated by MBs incursion into the Meatless Monday movement is favorable in the awareness front, and that itself is no small feat. I think that I have been impressed/inspired more by Batali’s gorgeous grilled vegetable platters from Spain on the Road Again than by his joining MM under the circumstances Madelyn highlights in this post.

        My vote for stratospherically high profiled celebrity chef spokesperson for MM would have been Emeril Lagasse . I really like his Emeril Green show on Discovery’s Plant Green, with its focus on sustainability and many episodes focusing on meat-free dishes. In his Miami restaurant’s regular menu (the one I’ve visited more recently), two out ten entrees are vegetarian, which on paper looks better than Batali’s record.

  2. Patrice Torres May 11, 2010 at 10:55 am #

    I just wrote about Meatless-Monday on my blog, as well. Although I take a bit of a different approach (from you) I can see and even agree with what you say. However, I ask you, have you seen Mr. Batali? He looks like bloated death warmed over. He is a reflection of his art. I would not want to eat anything that he has cooked no matter how good it looks or delicious it tastes. “Health” is a very new concept for him (if a concept at all), and not one that he is likely to pass to his customers.

    Vegan/Vegetarian options should be mainstream in all restaurants. I don’t mean a plate of iceburg lettuce and tomatoes that taste like the inside of the walk-in. I am talking about meals that are created with the same love that the meaty ones are. In my opinion, our society discriminates against anyone who isn’t eating SAD. I think most often it is subconscience or even inadvertant discrimination based purely on ignorance (which is at the heart of all discriminiation I suppose).

    Yes, I feel and agree with your outrage. Yes, you can hardly describe what he is doing as a bone thrown in the direction of the vegan/vegetarian or health conscious. However, the concept is a step in the right direction. In a way, it is not the food that matters at this point in the game, it’s the marketing. His Meatless-Mondays may be a far cry from what we would consider a “Meatless-Monday” but what about vegephobes who have just been told they’re going to die if they don’t do something about their health? Could Batali’s marketing concept reach people who would otherwise be resistant to a veg-friendly diet? At the very least, could his MM make the idea of less meats more acceptable to his followers? If so, is that not a step in the right direction?

    By the way, love your blog. Thanks for doing what you do!

  3. Elvin Orta May 11, 2010 at 11:08 am #

    Agreeing with Laura on this one. He doesn’t have to go all the way yet… Just by doing this he’s getting started, and showing awareness of the excessive meat-eating habits of the world. An easy transition is much better. And maybe the popularity of this will eventually expand the menu with more options. But the reality is a restauranteur cannot on a whim
    alienate his regular client base in one swing.

  4. Mariano May 11, 2010 at 11:33 am #

    Sure, with respect, I think its just publicity in both sides, does not seems that he was really convinced that its necessary to eat less meat to the ones that eat meat, and is not that attractive to vegetarians. Although however, is a sign that vegetarianism is permeating the interest to lead a healthier life. I think that Meatless Monday was born due to the silent pressure, and that in a very short time meat restaurants will modifies their dishes to the vegetarian trend, or close to it. Greetings

  5. Club Dine In! August 2, 2010 at 8:19 pm #

    I really disagree with you. I have been going Meatless on Mondays for the last 20 something years, and eat mostly a plant based diet. People are really sold on the idea that they need large quantities of meat and don’t see how they can break away from their usual eating habits. For hardcore meat eaters, this is a good start. You can’t blame someone for trying and increasing others’ awareness. And if, he gets publicity because of, it’s an added bonus!

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