Lettuce Eat Less Meat

Koze Wonokay, Editor

Recently during earth week, we were introduced to a new initiative from Green Team called, “Meatless Monday.” As a part of the initiative lunch was served free of meat products in order to promote integrating more environmentally friendly habits. In replacement of meat, more vegetarian options were put out as a balanced alternative in the main lunch, salad, and deli, areas. There was some push back from a few members of the community who were upset that there wasn’t a meat option, and some even ordered food from off campus. But for those who took part in the vegetarian options, and for the community at large, the initiative seemed to be extremely helpful. However, Pingree isn’t the only school where meat is being taken off the menu.

In an effort to be more sustainable, our neighboring state has taken action in cutting down on the consumption of red meat in schools. In New York, Mayor Bill de Blasio has introduced a more permanent change in the New York City Public Schools for the upcoming fall school year. The 2019-2020 school year will mark the beginning of New York City’s “Meatless Monday” program for breakfast and lunch will be served for students. In the spring of last year a pilot Meatless Monday program was introduced in 15 schools. It’s success spurred the expansion of the program to the entire public school system. Mayor de Blasio’s hopes for the program are that it’ll benefit the health of the students and make the public school system more sustainable.

Reducing meat intake is vital in the cause to reduce greenhouse gases emitted into the atmosphere . Agricultural emissions makeup a large portion of today’s greenhouse emissions. Cows for example require many resources, it takes 1,799 gallons of water to produce one pound of beef. In addition, the slaughter of cows produces methane which is harmful for the environment. According to CNN, 78% of total agricultural emissions contribute to food related greenhouse gas emissions.

There are also health benefits that are important to recognize that stem from a more plant based diet. Reducing consumption of meat is known to prevent the risk of disease as well as obesity. Childhood obesity rates are high, with 65% of children 12-14 show signs of early cholesterol disease. Implementing even a partial plant based diet can help to lower the risk. According to CNN, a plant based diet can help to lower the risk of obesity, hypertension, diabetes, cancer and other diseases. That’s definitely something to consider before biting into that next burger.

Not everyone is a fan of “Meatless Mondays,” but in New York parents are still permitted to send their child to school with a meat lunch if they so choose. As well as Tuesday through Friday in which there will continue to be meat included breakfast and lunch options. And the implementation of the “Meatless Monday” program is not an all out attack on those who enjoy meat, but rather a small step. If everyone went meat free for even a day, we could cut down drastically on the amount of greenhouse emissions released. But the the rolling out of “Meatless Mondays” is cost-neutral for the school system, so there is no major impact on those who are opposed to the system.

Moving forward with the sustainability efforts in our own community, it would be a great step to also implement a “Meatless Monday” program at Pingree. During Green Week it seemed that the proposal spooked some members of our community, but on days when we have shells for pasta, the main lunch is meatless. So if we all got more accustomed to taking meat off our plates for one day we could make some real change in our footprint on the environment.