Widgets Magazine

Meatless Mondays campaign encounters pushback from students

(Courtesy of Maria Deloso)

(Courtesy of Maria Deloso)

The campaign for Meatless Mondays, which strives to reduce meat consumption and is headed by different student groups this year, is gaining traction in dining halls, cafés and Row houses across campus, but not without student opposition to food choices they are ultimately paying for out-of-pocket.

Meatless Monday campaigns have taken different forms, including visiting Xanadu during one of its meatless meals, signing a pledge by the student group People for Animal Welfare (PAW) and considering “flexitarian” alternatives at Forbes Café.

“The challenge is getting people to view what seems like a personal choice as something that ‘yes, it is a personal choice, but it is also about how what I decide to do personally impacts everybody else,’” said David Kay ‘16, who is the president of PAW.

The taste of meatless food and protein deficiency were two key reasons residents at Xanadu feared a transition to Meatless Mondays. However, Ryan Schumacher ’15, who is currently Xanadu’s kitchen manager, maintains that meatless food still meets dietary needs.

“There are still people who say they want meat at every meal,” Schumacher said. “One of the residents says he just wants only meat and grains.”

Schumacher initially made the executive decision to implement Meatless Mondays without student input. Since much of the house opposed the way he handled the change, Schumacher sent out surveys to hold a vote.

Approximately 66 percent of residents in the house were in favor of having two meatless meals on different days each week in exchange for using saved money to purchase better quality meats. The remaining 33 percent of the votes was split between liking Meatless Mondays in their existing form — that is, two meatless meals on Mondays — or just wanting meat at every meal.

“I really wanted to be intentional about having a hand in what our chef cooks, so that the residents feel like they can have input and feel like they can have agency over what they’re eating,” Schumacher said.

He will be holding a re-vote this week in response to residents’ concerns.

Schumacher also expressed concern that one sub-adequate, meatless meal seemed to be enough for students to believe that Meatless Mondays are generally a bad idea and that residents might overlook successful dishes that they had not realized were meatless.

Pushback against Meatless Mondays is nothing new. In previous years, R&DE saw students boycotting Meatless Mondays at Florence Moore Dining. Two years ago, the Green Living Council (GLC) saw more success in running an informational campaign in Ricker called Mix-It-Up Mondays to encourage application of sustainability to one’s diet.

Conversations about reducing meat consumption have also become a part of discussions on sustainability within GLC, PAW and the Office of Sustainability, among other groups. Meatless Mondays advocates compare eating one of Arrillaga’s half mushroom/half meat burgers instead of a 100 percent meat burger to skipping out on showering for two weeks, in terms of the amount of water saved.

Student activists on campus, such as GLC co-president Isabelle Barnard ’16, recognize that personal and cultural factors are also responsible for shaping people’s food choices. Consideration of cultural factors influenced two student groups’ decision to host a cooking workshop at Columbae with vegan cookbook author Bryant Terry.

“For [Terry], he just felt that people in low-income neighborhoods didn’t either have access or didn’t have knowledge [of available healthy food choices], and no one was really connecting it back to their roots, specifically for African-American youth,” said Maria Deloso ’15, co-founder of Appetite for Change.

Deloso and Rohisha Adke ’15 changed Appetite for Change from a vegetarian group into one that sought to be inclusive. Their goal is for people to think more about their animal consumption choices — whether that be the environment, factory farming, worker rights, animal welfare or health.

Other groups on campus are pushing for Meatless Mondays in consideration of the pain and suffering inflicted on factory farm animals that has become standard practice.

“For us, the way animals are treated on these factory farms is just horrific,” Kay said. “It’s a weird double standard: If we castrated a dog without painkillers, boiled the dog alive or kept the dog in a crate for his entire life, that would be a felony in all 50 states.”

PAW has already garnered approximately 380 signatures in its more recent Meatless Mondays pledge session. PAW, Residential and Dining Enterprises (R&DE), the Office of Sustainability and the School of Earth, Energy and Environmental Sciences are a few co-sponsors of this week’s Green Week hosted by Alpha Kappa Alpha (AKA), who also hosted a Meatless Monday dinner on Monday night.

The aim of AKA’s Green Week is to start conversations on sustainable living, carbon footprint reduction and climate change. On Saturday, they are hosting a zero-waste cookout and gardening event at Ujamaa garden.


Contact Alexis Garduno at agarduno ‘at’ stanford.edu.

  • urcommentgavemecancer

    Regardless of ideological disagreements, I think the biggest issue students against Meatless Mondays have is that the dining halls do not prepare very good vegetarian food. Many groups of people have been vegetarian for centuries and by now they’ve mastered making that type of food. I’m in a row house as well and Meatless Monday was veto’d because people think tofu is that garbage the dining halls are serving up. If they would take the time to look into temple food (what Buddhist monks eat) or some of the vegetarian Indian dishes, people would probably be less opposed to the idea. There’s even vegetarian pho that comes very close to mimicking the classic beef pho but Wilbur has yet to get that right so there’s not much hope in that regard.

  • Student

    I am with serving vegetarian food side by side with meat dishes. Students who want and need meat should not be forced to convert to vegetarians. This is absolutely ridiculous.

  • Just A Random

    Some paneer would be nice if you asked me. I would honestly take good paneer over their standard meat. But no, we only get tofu.

  • skullbreathe

    Ideals of the minority become the choices for the majority…

  • AmateurChef

    I definitely agree that people would think of vegetarianism more positively if there were more delicious options. I told R&DE in a survey that I can cook badass vegetarian food. They have yet to contact me for advice 😉 Anyway, as a vegetarian who is from one of those groups of people that have been vegetarian for centuries, I have definitely not have been eating as well as I had been at home due to the lack of quality in the dining halls and elsewhere. I have gotten used to the lack of quality options here, but sometimes it’s depressing when I realize that back home, I have a plethora of options while here, I am limited to one or two that are a hit or miss. However, as someone is also dating a non-vegetarian, I definitely think forcing vegetarianism is wrong. This is no better than someone trying to uproot my vegetarian lifestyle by providing me only meat.

    PS Tofu tastes great if you know how to cook it right 🙂

  • Huyett

    Thank you David Kay for the good work you do 🙂

  • GL

    Tofu sloppy joes. I’ve never had “real” sloppy joes, but I have no idea how they could taste better than tofu sloppy joes.

    anyways when I was a KM our house had a similar thing going on, between quality of meats and quantity. When I came in it was 2 meats per meal, every meal. We decided on 3 meals a week of only 1 meat during lunch. The meats our cook served on their own (ex chicken breast versus ground beef for a meat sauce) she would buy top quality. We would also get pricier stuff like lamb, salmon, and steaks.

    Our house liked meat, so this meatless monday thing would have been out of the question. Just like salad-bar free tuesday or grain free wednesday would have been out of the question.