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Meat-Free Mondays at Hospital Cafés in Aotearoa †

Department of Epidemiology & Biostatistics, School of Population Health, Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences, University of Auckland, Auckland 1023, New Zealand
National Institution for Health Innovation, School of Population Health, University of Auckland, Auckland 1023, New Zealand
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Presented at the Annual Scientific Meeting of the Nutrition Society of New Zealand 2022, Wellington, New Zealand, 1–2 December 2022.
Med. Sci. Forum 2023, 18(1), 12;
Published: 10 March 2023
(This article belongs to the Proceedings of Annual Scientific Meeting of the Nutrition Society of New Zealand 2022)


Reducing human meat intake contributes to a reduction in environmental degradation and non-communicable diseases, but meat-reduction policy interventions are limited, and globally, meat intake remains high. Meat-Free Mondays (MFM) is a global campaign to reduce meat consumption by 15% to improve human and planetary health. In 2020, Nelson Marlborough District Health Board (DHB) introduced an MFM policy at their staff and guest cafes, and Northland DHB trialled an MFM policy for two months. We conducted a mixed-methods investigation at these District Health Boards along with Auckland (who were not considering an MFM policy) of the attitudes of DHB staff and managers towards MFMs and the implementation barriers and enablers. We conducted an online staff survey at two DHBs and eleven semi-structured interviews with food-service managers, café managers, and sustainability managers. The online survey received 194 responses (105 from Auckland and 89 from Nelson and Marlborough). Of those surveyed, 51% were actively cutting back on meat, mainly for health and environmental concerns and enjoyment of plant-based dishes. Of those surveyed, 59% were positive towards MFMs, and 31% were negative. Qualitative analysis of the interviews and open-ended questions of the survey identified four key themes (1) ‘Change and choice’, MFMs’ impact on personal choice and resistance to changing eating habits; (2) ‘Getting it right—product and price’, food quality, appearance, nutritional balance, and the impact of an MFM policy on customer retention and sales; (3) ‘Human and planetary health’, the co-benefits of MFMs and hospitals as leaders in healthy, sustainable diets; (4) ‘Implementation success’, including consultation, communications, and education, for a successful MFM policy and maintaining staff wellbeing. Recommendations for the successful implementation of MFMs included wide consultation with food-service and DHB staff, the need to provide evidence on the success of MFMs and alternatives, consideration of the wider food environment, and provision of dietitian support for the food service.

Published: 10 March 2023

Author Contributions

Conceptualization, E.E.; methodology, E.E., L.Y. and S.M.; data collection, E.E.; formal analysis, E.E.; writing—original draft preparation, E.E.; writing—review and editing, E.E., L.Y. and S.M. All authors have read and agreed to the published version of the manuscript.


This research received no external funding.

Institutional Review Board Statement

This study was approved by the Auckland Health Research Ethics Committee on 12 August 2020 for 3 years; the ethics reference number is AH2519.

Informed Consent Statement

Informed consent was obtained from all subjects involved in the study.

Data Availability Statement

The data are unavailable due to ethical restrictions on the collection of data from human participants.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflict of interest.
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MDPI and ACS Style

Ewens, E.; Young, L.; Mackay, S. Meat-Free Mondays at Hospital Cafés in Aotearoa. Med. Sci. Forum 2023, 18, 12.

AMA Style

Ewens E, Young L, Mackay S. Meat-Free Mondays at Hospital Cafés in Aotearoa. Medical Sciences Forum. 2023; 18(1):12.

Chicago/Turabian Style

Ewens, Ella, Leanne Young, and Sally Mackay. 2023. "Meat-Free Mondays at Hospital Cafés in Aotearoa" Medical Sciences Forum 18, no. 1: 12.

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