Meatless Monday, a national movement to encourage people to eat less meat, has taken off in at least one Colorado town. Organizers report that Aspen has embraced the concept more than any other place in America.
“It’s very interesting, but for some reason when people come to Aspen, they want to eat meat,” said Mimi Lenk, a vegetarian for more than a decade and the manager of Syzygy, a downtown restaurant where elk, bison and lamb are the big sellers.
A new nationwide pro-veggie effort, however — aimed at persuading people to go meatless at least one day a week — has been embraced here more than in any other city in America. At least 20 institutions and restaurants, including Syzygy, are offering vegetarian choices on Mondays under a plan announced this month.
“Nobody is saying, ‘go become a vegetarian,’ ” said Martin Oswald, a restaurateur who led the effort in signing up Meatless Monday participants among his food-industry friends. Mr. Oswald said he thought the dynamic that made Aspen such a prime place to expand Meatless Monday was not philosophy or health, but rather the cutthroat economics of the restaurant business — keeping up with the Joneses for fear of being left out.
“The key was to get enough restaurants involved, then I could say: ‘Well, that guy does it and that guy over there and this guy does it over here. Do you want to do it, too?’ ” he said, sitting across the table at one of his restaurants, Pyramid Bistro. That approach, with its hard-to-say-no overtones, worked well. “So far, nobody has actually refused,” he said.