By LEANNDRA PADGETT
Georgetown Sustainability Initiative (GSI) is bringing Meatless Mondays to GC. Before anyone gets the wrong idea, understand that meat is not going to disappear from the Caf. The group does not want everyone to convert to vegetarianism. GSI simply wants to encourage the college to become more sustainable. But what is so “green” about not eating meat? While there are many benefits (including health and financial) to cutting down on meat intake, GSI’s purpose in initiating this campaign is to focus mainly on the environmental impacts of meat and to raise people’s awareness of what they are consuming.
Producing meat takes energy. The meat industry is responsible for a large percentage of greenhouse gas emissions, requires copious amounts of water and consumes fossil fuels (meatlessmonday.com). Think about it this way: to produce a plant based protein such as soy, the plant is grown and processed. To produce a meat product, grain is grown and processed into animal feed. This is then shipped and bought by the animal farmer. Then, when the animal is grown, it is shipped, slaughtered and processed. Notice the additional steps required for meat that are cut out in plant processing. Each of these steps requires a lot of energy and resources. Oil is used for transportation, factories let out emissions, water and plant resources are consumed to produce meat.
Does this mean that no one should ever eat meat again? No, it simply means that people should be more aware about the effects of their eating patterns and take steps to cut back on the negative impacts associated with them. GSI is asking students, faculty and staff to commit to eating at least one meat-free meal on Mondays. The Caf will still have meat; no one will be forced into anything, but there will be more meatless options to choose from. Josh Eckman, manager of dining services at GC, is supportive of this project. The only element lacking is consumer commitment. The Caf will offer more meatless options if they are eaten. As a matter of supply and demand, GSI’s efforts will only work if diners consume meatless options when they are offered. One sign of dining services’ willingness to accommodate meatless options can be seen upon entering the Caf. Starting this year there is a line that, while it has been traditionally vegetarian, now sports a sign. This is a sign of the commitment that there will be at least some meatless options every day.
The point of Meatless Mondays is to encourage people to cut back on meat consumption. It will hopefully cause people to think about what they are eating more carefully. Awareness like this is important because of the huge impact food has on people through their environment and health. Please join GSI in partaking of Meatless Mondays. A pledge is being signed by people who are serious about committing to this project. The pledge reads as follows: “The Meatless Monday campaign will request that the Montgomery Cáf provide more vegetarian options on Mondays throughout the 2012-2013 school year. Meat options will still be available, but the campaign encourages students, faculty, staff and administrators to eat meat-free meals on Mondays. My signature below indicates that I understand that reducing my meat consumption can be beneficial not only towards my health, but also towards the environment. I am in favor of initiating Meatless Mondays on Georgetown College’s campus, and I pledge to eat at least one meat-free meal on Mondays during the 2012-2013 school year.”
The goal is to gather 150 names of committed individuals before this campaign kicks off. If all goes as planned, the first Meatless Monday will be next week, Oct. 29. If you would like to add your support to the list, please email Leanndra Padgett (lpadget0) or Morgan Reeves (morgancreeves@gmail).