Bill seeks ‘Meatless Mondays’ in schools
House Bill 6311 aims to institutionalize the "Luntiang Lunes" campaign, which will be a "nutrition and environmental drive" that will focus on lessening meat consumption

MANILA, Philippines – “Meatless Mondays” won’t just be limited to dieters, if a new bill filed in Congress is passed.

Bayan Muna partylist Rep Teddy Casiño filed a bill aiming to make “Meatless Mondays” a staple in elementary and high schools and encourage students to eat locally-grown vegetables instead.

House Bill 6311 aims to institutionalize the “Luntiang Lunes” campaign, which will be a “nutrition and environmental drive” that will focus on lessening meat consumption, based on a program developed by the Johns Hopkins University and Columbia University in 2003.

The campaign, aside from lessening meat consumption, also aims to lessen greenhouse gas emissions and to promote a healthy lifestyle among Filipinos.

The bill, to be known as the “Luntiang Lunes Bill,” will direct the Department of Education (DepEd) to order all elementary and secondary schools, both private and public, to serve only plant-based meals in their cafeterias every Monday while implementing and educational campaign on the beneficial role of such diet on health and the environment.

However, students will not be forced to buy food from the cafeteria, and are free to bring their own lunches to school regardless of whether it is plant- or meat-based food.

Casiño said studies have shown Filipinos overwhelmingly prefer to eat meat over vegetables, shown by one of the lowest per capita intakes of vegetables worldwide (39 kg). In addition, he said a 2008 study by the Department of Science and Technology showed the Philippines facing the double problem of childhood malnutrition and adult obesity.

“A quarter of adult Filipinos are already hypertensive and 7 million are diagnosed with diabetes, making the Philippines one of the world’s top ten epicenters of the disease. Each year, 200,000 Filipinos die of non-communicable diseases (NCDs), with heart disease as the leading cause of death. Long-term health care costs for NCDs are staggering. This also undermines the country’s economic development,” Casiño was quoted in a press release Sunday, July 8.

With the proposal, changes in children and adolescents’ eating habits will be targeted to promote a healthy lifestyle.

An inter-agency committee, which will include government agencies including the DepEd and the Department of Health, as well non-government organizations, will be formed to oversee the implementation of the program. –

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