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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

Veggie Mondays Proposed

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Stickers beside light switches and posters in bathroom stalls remind us of daily ways to save electricity and water. But maybe we would be doing more good by dishing up on tofu instead.

Kate Abram and Sarah Goldman, sophomores, are the leaders of Food Truth, a campus organization working to get more Carls aware of the choices they make in the dining halls. They want students to consider greater impacts that ripple out from sitting down at each meal.

Meatless Mondays is the group’s latest campaign, which challenges students to confront a fuller environmental picture of the foods they eat.

According to Abram, commercial meat processing is a fossil fuel and water intensive industry; each quarter pound burger is the energetic equivalent of running a microwave for 18 seconds and takes 50 pounds of water to produce.

Food Truth members want to engage students with questions about efficient and productive resource use. “Our goal is that students start thinking about these issues,” Goldman explained, stressing that making a commitment to reducing meat consumption does not have to mean giving it up entirely.

Mobilizing student participation can make a real difference, Abrams and Goldman argue. Carleton has immense purchasing power as an institution that feeds almost 2,000 students every day, which means our collective choices can influence larger food systems.

Bon Appetit serves meat in both dining halls at 19 meals each week, and plans meals in response to student preferences. The Meatless Mondays campaign asks students to imagine what could happen if they passed up meat just once each week: if more students consistently chose vegetarian options, Bon Appetit could respond by cooking and serving less meat on Mondays. And these choices would add up. Reducing our beef consumption by just 20 pounds each week would mean regularly saving 4,000 pounds of water. But is the rest of the campus on board? Ruth Steinke ’16, a standout on the women’s cross country and track teams, voiced concern about reducing her meat consumption as an athlete. “For me personally I need a lot of protein because I need to maintain my muscle, so I try to be conscientious about eating meat at least once a day,” she said.

When asked what she thought about that campaign in general, Steinke suggested giving equal weight to environmental and health considerations. “You really need to do it not just for the environmental reasons and go for it gung-ho without thinking about your body. It shouldn’t be a unilateral decision.” Junior Robbie Emmet was recently featured on Humans of Meatless Mondays, a new Facebook page dedicated to profiling students who have pledged to reduce their meat consumption. His post shows enthusiasm for the campaign’s goals and feasibility: “I don’t eat meat on Mondays because it is one of the best ways to reduce my Carbon footprint. It might not seem like a lot when one person goes meatless on Mondays, but imagine the impact a couple hundred would have!”

Emmet also noted a resulting decrease in his meat consumption throughout the rest of the week, due in part to the variety of vegetarian options he found in the dining halls. “I’d also say this is really easy to do at Carleton, since this is probably one of only a few schools where the vegetarian options are often better than the non-vegetarian options!” Emmet said.

Food Truth hopes to continue addressing nutritional concerns and promoting meatless options in an effort to reach more students. Recognizing the power of cooperative action and the campus’ general support of environmentally-friendly initiatives, Food Truth hopes students will try reducing their meat consumption as much or little as they are comfortable with. “I want people to think of this as a personal challenge,” Abram suggests. “See how easy it is!”

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