Having started as a public health awareness campaign in 2003, the Meatless Mondays initiative has transformed into a global movement that addresses health, environmental, and animal welfare issues in regards to meat consumption.
This January, SFU dove headfirst into implementing the Monday Veggie Challenge in communication with the Vancouver Humane Society (VHS) — the organisation that awakened many schools to the movement. The new initiative is in addition to SFU’s previous vegetarian commitments.
The simple argument that cultivating plant crops to feed livestock is inefficient, when we could consume the plant crops in the first place is an underpinning motif for VHS. “Students are thrilled to have a variety of healthy, humane, and eco-friendly food options to help them make delicious and responsible food choices,” said Emily Pickett, VHS’s program coordinator.
Aligning with this view, Ali White, programs manager at Embark (the independent, student-led not-for-profit society based out of SFU) remarked, “While it’s not one of our main programming areas [at SFU], the Challenge coordinates with our work by engaging students in being aware of their carbon footprint, and further supports the health and well-being of both people and the environment.”
Recognizing the momentum that students can create by actively participating in the Monday Veggie Challenge at SFU, White explained, “SFU Dining Services has partnered with us to promote the campaign in the Dining Hall and Mackenzie Cafe, which both provide vegetarian options every day of the week.”
“Not only do students know best how to reach and empower fellow students, but they can provide valuable feedback about menu options and strategies for running a successful campaign within their school community,” stressed Pickett. VHS is pushing boundaries with nine Metro Vancouver schools being on board in the initiative.
This statement resonated with students’ perspective at SFU as well. “We were talking about the Meatless Mondays just a while ago,” said Kendal Singleton, a first-year student currently studying medical physiology. Singleton is currently on the meal plan for SFU.
“I really like it because I’m a vegetarian. Especially on Mondays, the quality and variety of the food is great.”
Paul Garcha, a first-year computing science major, added, “I’m not a vegetarian, but they served veggie quesadillas last Monday and I think that should appeal to meat-eaters, too.” The two students agreed that SFU’s efforts are commendable, at its initiation.
Embark has students engaging in the front- as well as the back-end of the project through their promotional strategies. “We have a volunteer who is currently working on developing social media graphics for the campaign. In addition, SFU Health and Counselling peers are keen to support the campaign through their tabling outreach, focusing more on the health impacts of meat consumption,” explained White.
VHS and Embark collectively express the positive response Meatless Mondays has cultivated. Piloted in November, Embark plans on bringing more to table. “We hope to encourage other vendors on campus to take part in the Monday Veggie Challenge. This could include offering a discount for vegetarian meals on Mondays, or simply featuring a meatless option on that day.”