Students have always made a pastime of complaining about dining services. What most people are unaware of is that Sodexo is listening, and they are making changes.

I thus propose a call to action. Sodexo should serve local, organic, grass-fed beef in the dining halls once a week. I’m a vegan, and a proponent of Meatless Monday, so my incentives for switching other people’s burgers may seem out of line. But I am also a lover of our school and our planet, which is why better beef only makes sense.

The age of factory farmed beef must come to an end. It’s not possible for Earth to sustain the high energy inputs needed to manufacture the meat. In fact, factory farms are one of the largest markets for fossil fuels. Carbon dioxide, along with water contamination and pollution, are slowly poisoning the planet. Humans are adversely affected by factory farmed meat as well. Not only is meat linked with heart disease and cancers, but factory farmed animals are raised on antibiotics. When the body is constantly exposed to strains of antibiotics, its ability to fight disease is compromised. As consumers, we can’t allow ourselves to be a part of this monstrous social and environmental injustice.

Binghamton University is an academic haven. We have a responsibility to recognize and accommodate the changes that must be made to improve our world. Let improvements on our dining choices be a part of that change.

Beef that is raised organically, locally, grass-fed and free-range is immersed in a sustainable system. As Michael Kane, a professor of ecological agriculture at BU, points out, cattle that are raised in a properly designed grazing system will actually help the land sequester carbon from the atmosphere. Yes, better beef can combat global warming.

Here’s a bonus: Better beef makes a better burger. Locality especially allows the beef to be as fresh as the source. This eliminates the need to freeze the beef, which keeps it flavorful. And maybe better conditions means happier cows, and like those antibodies, they too could be passed on to the consumer.

The best part is this: Sodexo is already serving local, grass-fed, free-range beef. Starting this Thursday, Feb. 20, every dining hall will offer a Bodacious Burger menu featuring Purdy’s beef. The meal plan price on an 8-ounce burger ranges from $2.80 to $3.20. It may be more expensive than the typical factory burger, but quality prevails over price. Depending on the success of Bodacious Burgers, Sodexo may choose to increase the amount of Purdy’s sourced beef. If you want to enjoy these burgers any day, they’re available at the Marketplace Diner, too.

Engelbert Farms is a potential Sodexo vendor as well. Located 25 miles west in Nichols, N.Y., their organic beef establishes itself as a sustainable food source. The University should have a responsibility to partner with local businesses that do good.

What does all of this mean to students, besides better burgers? Our dining services are only as successful as their listening skills. When Sodexo and students come together, they can create mutual benefits. This semester’s Student Culinary Council, which I am glad to be a part of, is one form of communication between the two. Students are encouraged to attend bimonthly general board meetings that seek to improve the BU dining experience. Through this medium, we can promote cleaner silverware, ethically sound hummus and higher quality food.

So why not better beef? It’s your campus, your planet and your body. So let your plate be your vote, and when the hand that feeds you is listening, speak up!