This week, Sodexo at Binghamton University joined the nationwide Meatless Monday program.
For BU students, Meatless Monday simply means two extra vegetarian options at the entree station for dinner and lunch. The program was suggested to Sodexo by the IDEAS club.
Meatless Monday began in 2003 and is now present in 29 countries, according to Meatless Monday’s website. The website says that “skipping meat one day a week is good for you, great for your nation’s health, and fantastic for the planet … Going meat free on Monday helps increase fruit and vegetable consumption, supports hardworking produce farmers, and represents a fabulous platform for promoting meat-free products.”
Louis Vassar Semanchik, a member of IDEAS, said that animal cruelty is not the only reason to go meatless.
“We care about that, but our main message is that eating meat is an ecological catastrophe. It’s a disaster. There are water wastes. It’s polluting waters, and it’s using resources and food that could be fed directly to people and instead it’s wasted producing meat,” said Semanchik, a junior majoring in biology.
According to Semanchik, it takes seven to 15 pounds of grain and 2,000 gallons of water to produce one pound of beef.
Sodexo Unit Marketing Coordinator Casey Slocum said that the program is largely based on the desires of students.
“A lot of students have come to us in the past with concerns that they didn’t have enough vegetarian or vegan options. In fact, there are a lot of them, but they weren’t presented well or the students didn’t see the options,” Slocum said.
Toren DeRosa, a sophomore majoring in computer science, is a vegan, but says that there are not enough options.
“There is only one dining hall that has a vegan option, and it can get very repetitive,” DeRosa said. “Other dining halls have random vegan options, but it’s not a substantial meal. If you want to get a real meal, you have to come to CIW.”
However, he acknowledged that Meatless Monday was a step in the right direction and offered some advice to people trying to cut down on their meat consumption.
“They should do it with an open mind,” DeRosa said. “Usually the food is a lot better than they think, but they will disregard it just because it’s vegan or vegetarian even though they haven’t ever tried it.”
Slocum said that the student population was generally excited about Meatless Monday, except one student who tweeted “F U Meatless Mondays.” Slocum tweeted back that Meatless Monday doesn’t that there is no meat, which, according to Slocum, the annoyed student re-tweeted.
Alex Mackof, an undeclared freshman, said there are some lesser known benefits to going meatless.
“I am open to the change because I like having varieties, and I don’t eat that much meat,” Mackof said. “The non–meat options are generally a lot less expensive than the meat options.”
For Sofia Degtyar, a freshman double-majoring in art and computer science, quitting meat might not be so easy.
“Growing up in Russia I ate lot of meat because it was one of the key foods in Russian cuisine,” Degtyar said. “I am really used to it, and it’s like a part of me now. Meat is life. But yeah, I need to eat more vegetables.”
Many other Sodexo schools and hospitals are adopting Meatless Monday, according to Slocum.
Slocum also said that Meatless Monday falls into Sodexo and BU’s broader goals.
“President Stenger really wants to make sure that we promote health and wellness on this campus,” Slocum said. “At some point, we want to become the healthiest campus in the country.”