After mixed reviews from the student body last year, Meatless Monday returned to campus this week, banishing most of the meat from the cafeteria and Oak Room for one day in an effort to raise awareness of the environmental impact of eating meat.
The day, like many environmental sustainability efforts at Knox, was organized by Knox Advocates for Recycling and Environmental Support. With the aim of promoting and inculcating environmentally sustainable habits and practices, KARES has carried out various events and activities in the past such as Earth Week, encouraging recycling programs at Knox and hosting movie screenings of movies related to the environment.
Meatless Monday is a national movement but one but one that started last year at Knox. It seeks to reduce the environmental damage caused by excessive meat production.
There was much more positive feedback during last year’s Meatless Monday than negative. That, combined with the continuous desire to raise awareness, convinced KARES to try again this year.
On first look, the term “Meatless Mondays” sounds more like a movement to promote vegetarianism. However, it comes mainly from an environmental standpoint to reduce the use of resources such as land, water and chemicals which are used to produce the meat that gets served on our tables.
Junior Callie Smith, head of public relations for KARES says, “It was sad how people couldn’t handle one day without meat.”
She went on to say, “America is a huge meat-eating country. The amount of meat it consumes compared to other countries is significantly higher. This has a lot of negative impact on our environment… Instead of feeding huge number of animals to produce more meat, that grain can be used as food for all those starving people. This event is not about making people vegetarians. It’s simply about environmental sustainability.”
Student Senate Sustainability Chair Nora McGinn completely supports the event, despite not being a member of KARES, and added, “Meatless Monday is a great event that helps raise awareness about the meat industry, diverts student spending away from this unsustainable industry for at least one day and starts a meaningful dialogue on campus about sustainability, [food and spending] choices, workers’ rights and privilege among other things.”
Dining Services, headed by Helmut Mayer, have made all the necessary changes to help conduct Meatless Mondays. However, despite allowing the event to occur, they take no official position on it.
A statement from Dining Services said, “We are neutral: neither for, nor against, eating or not eating meat.”
Dining Services does not view Meatless Mondays as a huge issue that would affect the students. According to them one day without meat is not going to deprive the students of anything because there are a whole lot of other food options to choose from to make up for the lack of meat.
Last year, KARES conducted the event only once, but starting from this year, they are working towards carrying it out once every term. For all those who just cannot survive Meatless Mondays, there is always the Gizmo, which does not observe Meatless Mondays.