Bubbly actress Laura Marano, of Disney Channel's "Austin & Ally" show helped introduce the Meatless Mondays idea to students at Walter Reed Middle School and all of the Los Angeles Unified School District on Feb. 3.
The students loved seeing the 18-year-old actress at the only middle school with a Culinary Academy where students learn how to cook at a young age. They talked about their pets, what foods they like and how going meatless even one day helps the environment.
"It's exciting that making a small change like swapping chicken nuggets for a bean burrito can make a big difference in so many ways!" says Marano. "Meatless Mondays is a really cool idea that not only helps animals, but also is really healthy for our planet—and a person's health."
The idea for the one-day-a-week meatless meal at LAUSD is an international program to help the environment.
Marano isn't a complete vegetarian herself ("I like chicken," she tells Examiner), but she is mostly. She goes a private high school in the San Fernando Valley not far from where she works at the Disney Studios and says that she is trying to convince that school into having a meat-free menu at least once a week.
"That's all it takes, only a few people pushing the issue here or there," she says, joining the Humane Society with stars such as Paul Wesley, Keisha, Katy Perry, Bella Thorne, Ian Somerhalder, Kristen Bell and others.
"This is also something that will help the drought we're having in California, too," said Humane Society Food Policy Manager Kristie Middleton, who was at the school Monday. "Statistics show that it takes enough water to fill a hot tub for a family of four to produce one egg."
LAUSD Food Services Supervisor Javier Gutierrez also attended the meeting with the students, and said that many of the schools have embraced the idea to have a day of the week without meat, and learn how it helps the environment. Of course, families can send their children to school on Mondays and pack their own meat sandwich if they wish, but the Meatless Monday is supposed to help everyone understand how eating less meat helps with pollution, less waste and sustainable agriculture.
The idea was created in WWI by the U.S. government and in 2003, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health re-launched the campaign, starting at some of the country's largest school districts, like L.A., Detroit, Buffalo and San Diego.
The Humane Society says the current levels of meat consumption supports "inhumane practices in the industrial factory farms, and pushes small family farmers out of business."
LAUSD director of Food Services David Binkle says, "We are thrilled that Laura Marano could share her passion for healthy living and nutrition with our schools."
Meanwhile, Laura Marano impressed the students by learning all their names, sitting down and lunching with them, and remembering the names of their pets.
To find out more about LAUSD's menu and food programs, click here: http://cafe-la.lausd.net
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