Nearly 300 students pledged to participate in Meatless Mondays, a national initiative that asks students to avoid consuming meat one day per week. The commitment of the 287 current participants reduces the University’s carbon footprint by about 59 kg of CO2 per week, according to the site.
The site has been up for ten months, said Adalyn Naka ’13, who brought the movement to Brown as part of a project for ENVS 0410: “Environmental Stewardship” last year. “Our biggest goal is to get people thinking of what they’re eating,” said James Hayes ’13, a member of the group that started the project. “A lot of the time, food is there, and we just eat it.”
The national movement’s website states that multiple college dining halls have committed to Meatless Mondays. Columbia is one such school, according to its dining website.
Environmental, health, economic and social issues are listed as reasons to go meatless on the Brown Meatless Mondays site.
Meatless Mondays at Brown is not about eliminating meat from the school dining halls but about raising awareness, Hayes said.
“The national movement is very much focused on getting rid of (meat) in the dining hall. We want to say, ‘Yes, there’s meat available, but here’s the vegetarian special,”‘ said Alison Kirsch ’15, a member of the Sustainable Food Initiative. The University’s initiative is more focused on the social issues behind meat consumption than the health issues the national movement stresses, Naka said.
Naka paired with Kirsch and the Sustainable Food Initiative a few weeks ago to seek more publicity for the movement. They hope to submit a proposal to Dining Services that would permit them to advertise the movement in campus eateries, Naka said.
Gathering data from an online survey on students’ eating habits will help legitimize their proposal, Kirsch said.
“The questions on the survey are aimed at figuring out how much meat students are eating, what issues drive their dietary decisions, and if they’d be willing to take the pledge. These questions help us better understand the population we are targeting,” Naka wrote in an email to The Herald.
The length of the pledge commitment is up to each participant, Naka said. “We can’t make you do it, but hopefully you will,” she said.
Hayes said he thinks he will avoid eating meat on Mondays forever. “I can’t see what would make me stop,” he said. It’s not difficult to go meatless one day per week, especially when your friends are doing the same, he said.
Kevin Casto ’13, a signer of the pledge, said that he would stay committed “into the foreseeable future,” adding that he appreciates the flexibility of the once-per-week commitment.
“I was uncomfortable with the way vegetarianism can become very strict,” Casto said. Before taking the pledge, he used to eat meat as part of “every other meal,” he said.
“The problem is that people think that vegetarianism is all or nothing. The point of Meatless Mondays is that it isn’t,” Kirsch said.