In conjunction with Students for Responsible Business and Students for Environmental Action, Dining Services is joining the national campaign, Meatless Mondays encourages students to cut meat out of their diets once a week to promote a healthier lifestyle.
Sodexo, Inc. recently joined the worldwide effort to promote healthier and more sustainable eating habits by introducing Meatless Mondays to student eateries on Main Campus. With the help of Students for Responsible Business and Students for Environmental Action, Sodexo aims to make meatless days more appealing to students.
Registered dietician and Sodexo employee Julie Ruhl said that on Mondays, Johnson & Hardwick cafeteria now serves vegetarian and vegan-friendly food at the International Station. She also said that various animal protein-free foods are available at the Student Center on Mondays.
“I think [Meatless Mondays] is a chance to take a pause and reevaluate, and make sure you are getting enough fruits and vegetables,” Ruhl said. “College students, on average, aren’t even getting close to the five recommended daily [servings] a day.”
Some meatless options include Benny’s Steak offering vegan mini-grinders and a vegan chili option at Charleston Market. The salad bar station also provides a tabouli salad (a Lebanese salad containing primarily onions, tomatoes and burghul, a type of wheat) and a marinated tofu salad. Other meatless food choices include vegetarian lasagna, curry and chickpea and potato dishes.
“On average, Americans are consuming eight ounces of meat per day, which is 45 percent more than the USDA or the government recommends,” Ruhl said, referencing the Meatless Mondays’ website.
Not eating meat for a day or two out of the week, as stated online by Meatless Mondays, can lower one’s risk of getting cancer–more specifically colon cancer, which can be caused by eating large amounts of processed red meat–type two diabetes, heart disease and obesity.
Freshman theater major and former vegan Sarah Thompson chose not to eat meat based off of both wellness and environmental factors. She is currently a vegetarian due to a lifestyle that made veganism difficult to follow.
“I became a vegetarian for health reasons and from also reading a book titled ‘Skinny Bitch,’ written by Rory Freedman and Kim Barnouin,” she said. “In the book they discussed the meat and dairy industry and it really changed my views on how I view animal products.”
According to a 2008 New York Times article by Mark Bittman [“Rethinking the Meat-Guzzler,” Jan. 27, 2008], “… assembly-line meat factories consume enormous amounts of energy, pollute water supplies, generate significant greenhouse gases and require ever-increasing amounts of corn, soy and other grains, a dependency that has led to the destruction of vast swaths of the world’s tropical rain forests.”
Sodexo representatives at Temple and other organizations joined the Meatless Mondays campaign to combat such environmental decimation.
“SRB became involved in the Meatless Mondays’ initiative as part of our efforts to make Temple University a greener campus,” SRB President Victoria Vicente said. “If Temple is to demand less meat, producers will need less of a supply, in turn, preventing the occurrence of the many unsustainable production practices that are destroying our environment and health.”
Representatives of SEA were unable to comment for this article.
Each Monday during lunch and dinner at J&H, SEA members are available to talk to students about the Meatless Mondays initiative and its objectives.
“There are a lot of environmental and health benefits to not eating meat and it’s worth trying once a week,” said Monica Sellecchia, a Sodexo employee who coordinated most of the advertising efforts between Sodexo, SEA and SRB. “I think slowly our society is expecting this and it’s not our goal to convert everyone to living a meatless life, but rather to inform them of the other options.”
Although attempts have been made to promote Meatless Mondays, some students still don’t know much, if anything, about the initiative.
“I honestly did not know about Meatless Mondays until now,” Thompson said. “I think their advertising is very poor until one actually visits the campus dining to see what they provide.”
Thompson added that better advertising for Meatless Monday would greatly benefit the Temple community.
“SRB and SEA gave their best efforts at the time to promoting the cause,” Vicente said. “In the future, we hope to organize ourselves better to make a bigger impact, especially since we have grown substantially this year in terms of membership.”
Meatless Mondays encourages students to avoid animal products for a day, but the main purposes of the initiative are to stimulate healthier food and environmental choices.
In addition, daily meat and protein options in both J&H and the Student Center are defined in Sodexo’s contract with the university, so students still have the option to eat meat on Monday, and every other day, for that matter.
“I am never going to give up cheeseburgers or buffalo wings,” Vicente said. “However, I am very open to alternative options some of the time if it is going to improve my life and the lives of those around me.”
No matter what students consider themselves–a vegan, a vegetarian, an omnivore or even a carnivore–what one chooses to eat has positive and negative consequences. Together, Sodexo, SRB and SEA are using initiatives like Meatless Mondays to make students more aware of how their choices of food affect their health and environment.
Alexandra Iacovetti can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.