I have always found it interesting that one of the first questions I get after telling someone I am vegetarian is “How do you live?”
Well, considering the fact that The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention only recommends that 10 to 35 percent of the calories you consume come from protein sources (which don’t even necessarily need to be meat), I would say I manage to survive fairly well. Furthermore, across the United States, there have been other students realizing a similar idea—that perhaps going meat free may not be all that bad. For one, cutting out meat only once a week is proven to provide individual health benefits like limiting cancer risk, reducing chances of developing heart disease and/or diabetes, curbing obesity, and elongating life. On a broader scope, reducing meat intake also reduces a person’s overall carbon footprint, water consumption, and dependency on fossil fuels. So why not go meat free when we can?
One initiative that has gained significant ground in the past few years is “Meat Free Mondays.” This program involves different universities’ commiting to keeping their dining options meat free every Monday. While this type of an event may seem somewhat limiting for the larger majority of the meat consuming student body, there have been many reports of student satisfaction and reduced costs in schools that have implemented said event.
At Simpson University in Redding California, dining hall managers discovered that in wake of the cost reductions associated with cutting out meat for a day, they were able to provide more upscale, vegetable protein based options. Now, they actually work with students to develop more creative alternatives to their favorite meat meals such as house-made black bean burgers with guacamole, root vegetable pot pie, eggplant parmesan, and penne pesto alfredo.
And this movement is gaining ground all around the United States at universities such as University of California at Santa Cruz, Simpson University, and Saint Xavier University (to name the most recent converters). When asked about their strategy in regards to implementing this event, most schools reference the effectiveness of marketing campaigns and social media. Additionally, support from external organizations such as Meatless Monday have also made this switch to more sustainable food options on Mondays quite doable. So if we could improve our health, reduce our net energy footprint, and provide students good tasting alternatives (all with the backing of an organization to help) why haven’t we all tried going meat free on Mondays?