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All 14 of Mario Batali’s restaurants feature at least two vegetarian entrees as part of his Meatless Monday promotion. “If anybody can entice meat lovers to enjoy their veggies as well, it's Batali," says Lerner, who is founder and chairman of Meatless Monday. "We're delighted that Maestro Mario is helping to move the movement."

John Fraser, executive chef and proprietor of New York City’s Dovetail, a three-year recipient of the Michelin star, has found the Meatless Monday campaign to be very beneficial for business. “We are located on the Upper West Side of [Manhattan], which gets slow in the summer. I was thinking about shutting the restaurant down for a few days each week over the summer,” he explained.

At the same time, Fraser noted, he was starting to leave meat out of his own diet and began focusing on his passion for local, seasonal produce.

“And so I started offering a selection of vegetarian specials every Monday. Pretty soon we were packed on Monday, and it was a completely different clientele — younger and savvy guests,” he said. “They loved the vegetarian choices, and they are a loyal following every Monday…. So it started as a more rogue, artful experiment and now has developed into a whole new market for us.”

Marisa May, co-owner of SD26 at Madison Square Park, recently joined the Meatless Monday campaign. “It is a natural for us. We are eco-friendly and believe in the health benefits of the Mediterranean diet. It’s our natural way of eating,” she said. “Many of our menu items offered all week long are meatless.”

May knew that many of her friends and fellow restaurateurs were participating in Meatless Monday. “We thought, ‘why not?’ We love the initiative.”

May says her guests are very responsive to the campaign and love the emphasis on vegetables, many exclaiming that they have never tasted vegetables that were so good. “Probably the overall favorite is our Vignarola, which is our spring vegetable stew poached in white wine with artichokes and shavings of Pecorino Romano,” she said. “Our guests also love our chilled tomato soup, Sicilian Caponata, spaghetti with tomato sauce and basil, and Uovo in Raviolo.”

Meatless Monday participation grows as plant-based lifestyles are gaining in popularity and acceptance due to interest in health, nutrition and sustainability. Plant-based eating styles range from Mediterranean and “flexitarian,” to vegetarian and vegan, to macrobiotic and anti-inflammatory diets.

These eating plans all emphasize, to some degree, minimally processed foods, including fruits, vegetables and whole grains with some fish, lean meat and/or low-fat or nonfat dairy. The major theme in most of these eating styles is reducing intake of trans and saturated fats by decreasing intake of red meat and processed foods.

Contact Anita Jones-Mueller, M.P.H., at anita@healthydiningfinder.com.