A ceremony last week to launch the Knesset’s commitment to eating with health and planet in mind was attended by speaker Yuli-Yoel Edelstein, Knesset member Dov Lipman, who is head of the parliament’s meat-free lobby, and Miki Haimovich, who spearheads the Meatless Monday campaign in Israel.
Also showing their support for the meat-reducing message, along with several other Knesset members, were ministers Tzipi Livni, Yael German and Amir Peretz.
Celebrating what he called “an important day”, Lipman said the Knesset was “the first parliament in the world that has brought this initiative into its cafeteria”.
Edelstein added that there was “widespread agreement about the initiative” within a parliament intended to become the “greenest … in the world”.
Parliamentarians are now able to tuck into dishes such as quinoa salad, szechuan-style vegetables and tofu, tehina with masabbaha, soy beans and pulses, and pastilla filled with vegetables, tofu and walnuts.
The Knesset cafeteria is served by chefs from food services company Sodexo, which in 2011 rolled out Meatless Monday across its 3,000 corporate and government cafeterias in the US.
Lipman and Haimovich, a former news anchor turned health campaigner, set up a Meatless Monday caucus last year with “an understanding that we must act to protect the environment”, Lipman said. “One day without meat doesn’t sound like a lot, but together we can make a big, significant change.”
Israelis eat an average 18 kg of meat a year, placing their country 12th in the global league table of meat-eating nations, according to the Knesset Research and Information Center. It has said that greenhouse gas emissions from livestock production have a significant effect on Israel’s carbon footprint.
At a meeting to discuss Meatless Mondays last year, Haimovich gave Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu a copy of Jonathan Safran-Foer’s book Eating Animals. The prime minister disclosed that he and his wife were already meat-reducers, having been convinced to cut down by their son Yair, who is vegetarian.