Ellen O'Donnell - The Bucknellian
Did you know that for every burger you don’t eat, you can save enough water to drink for the next three years and enough energy to charge your phone for four and a half years? Meat may be delicious to some, but producing it also comes at a cost to our environment; an abundance of valuable resources must be utilized to get meat from the farm to the table.
Enter Meatless Mondays, a campaign founded in 2003. The premise of the movement is simple: by skipping meat one day a week, you are making a choice that is “good for you, great for your nation’s health, and fantastic for the planet.” This movement is currently active in 36 countries and quickly becoming a growing presence on college campuses across the country.
The University may consider establishing Meatless Mondays in its cafeteria. As an institution of higher learning, the University can take charge in not only serving students healthy food, but also making sure the food itself is sustainable, enhancing a living-learning environment on campus.
Monday is the perfect day to implement this practice–it’s the beginning of the week, which affects our mood and behavior. Those surveyed said that they perceived the first day of the work week as “a fresh start.” There is also a surge of health-conscious activity on Mondays, including exercising, dieting, quitting smoking, and scheduling doctor’s appointments. The campaign will help students form healthier and environmentally conscious habits that will stick with them long after they leave the University.
Going meatless one day a week can help reduce the risk of chronic conditions like cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and obesity. Evidence also suggests that eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables and low in red meat can increase longevity.
Meatless Mondays reduces the strain on natural resources used in meat production, such as energy, fresh water, and fossil fuels. The water needs of livestock are much greater than that of fruits and grains; it takes approximately 1,850 gallons of water to produce a single pound of beef, yet only 39 gallons of water to produce a pound of vegetables. Regarding pollution and climate change, meat production produces significantly more greenhouse gases than vegetable production. The meat industry uses an incredible amount of energy to produce grain for livestock; if we used the grain for direct consumption instead, it could feed approximately 840 million people.
Now, some people may be thinking, “Can vegetarian dishes be filling and delicious?”
But we eat meat-free, tasty dishes all the time! For instance, Meatless Mondays can include many pasta dishes, eggplant parmesan, tofu stir-fry, pad Thai, and falafels. Meatless Mondays provides a recipe book for all participating campuses. Our own dining services can help create unique menu options, allowing staff creativity and ownership of the initiative.
Schools currently participating in the campaign include Lehigh, American, Villanova, Vassar, Tulane, Syracuse, Brown, Colby, Columbia, Dartmouth, Davidson, George Washington, and Johns Hopkins, among many others.
Discuss it with your friends, request it from dining services, and help the University join our peer institutions in using Meatless Mondays to strive for a healthy student body and a sustainable world. One day a week, even one meal a week, can have an immense impact.
Note: If you would like to get involved in implementing Meatless Mondays at Bucknell, or have ideas or suggestions, please e-mail the author at [email protected]