January has come and gone, and with it some of the excitement of the New Year, but change is still in the air. On Feb. 1, Sodexo, along with the Humane League and the EU Earthkeepers club, launched a “Meatless Monday” campaign at our school. What does this mean? Every Monday, the “classics” line in the Walton Dining Commons will be serving delicious, fully vegetarian entrées, and students are encouraged to commit to the challenge of going without meat for the day. As always, Sodexo is constantly working hard to keep us happy, fueled, and well-fed. This is a great new installment for those looking for a healthy, compassionate, and eco-friendly way to start their week.
The Humane League, an organization that reaches out to universities, food service companies, and large restaurant chains, works to promote three things: vegetarian and vegan diets, other more humane dietary options, and an overall awareness of the problems of animal agriculture. The organization is concerned with educating students everywhere about the many benefits of a plant-based diet: namely, the positive environmental impact, physical health benefits, and the prevention of cruel treatment of the animals involved in the meat and dairy industries.
The EU Earthkeepers club is working with the Humane League to make students aware of what the club argues to be the many negative effects that animal agriculture has on the environment. It may or may not be surprising, they argue, that animal agriculture is one of the chief contributors to greenhouse gases into our atmosphere, contributing more than all forms of transportation combined. They cite numerous studies, such as one put forth by the Livestock, Environment, and Development (LEAD) Initiative, which suggest that the meat and dairy industries are some of the leading causes of drought, deforestation, food waste, and climate change. To make one pound of beef takes roughly 2,500 gallons of water, 55 square feet of rainforest, and 12 pounds of grain. This same pound of beef emits about 15lbs of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Now consider the fact that 24.3 billion pounds of beef were produced in the United States in 2014 alone. With this in mind, the hamburger in that tantalizing commercial might seem a little less appetizing.
The new Meatless Monday program is about making little changes in diet that have large impacts in the globe. For example, if you are making an attempt to reduce your water consumption, it might be helpful to know that skipping out on just one burger would equal the same amount of water conservation as skipping out on showering for about three months or flushing the toilet for six. Surely your roommates would thank you if you went with the burger route.
In short, the Meatless Monday campaign is an attempt to offer an easy (and tasty) first step toward what the Earthkeepers club believes could, ideally, become a lifestyle change that would better you and your footprint on God’s great Earth. The club asks everyone, “If you feel so inclined, please sign the pledge to commit to one day a week of more conscious eating choices at www.eastern.meatlessmondaypledge.com.”
Sources: woods.stanford.edu, earthsave.org, motherjones.com, sciencedirect.com, ers.usda.gov, cowspiracy.com, peta.org