GAP and Dining Services Partner for Meatless Mondays
Issue   |   Tue, 11/28/2017 - 21:21

Valentine Dining Hall and the Green Amherst Project (GAP) are currently collaborating to raise student awareness about the environmental effects of eating meat by promoting “Meatless Mondays.” Their goal, according to GAP members, is to encourage students to decrease their meat consumption on these days.

GAP E-board members Dominique Iaccarino ’19 and Annabelle Gary ’20 met with Director of Dining Services Joseph Flueckiger and Executive Chef Jeremy Roush on Nov. 9 to discuss how the dining hall could support the “Meatless Mondays” initiative.

The current plan is to incorporate more vegan and vegetarian options into the traditional side of the meal on Monday nights, while having a limited meat option on the “Lighter Side.”

Both Dining Services and GAP hope that adding vegetarian or vegan options to the traditional menu, which currently usually consists of heavier entrees featuring meat-based foods, will make it easier for students to go meatless for a day.

“We’ve found that just even from watching people walk into Val, the first thing they’ll do is get in the traditional line,” Gary said.

“If the main dish is vegetarian, then you’re not even going to think about it; you’re just going to get it,” Iaccarino said. “And then afterwards, you might realize there’s no meat and … look for [it], but hopefully not.”

Gary and Iaccarino stressed that they do not plan on completely removing meat during Monday night dinners.

Gary said they want to meet the dietary needs of every student at the college, but they aim to provide “full protein meals” while “making it easy for people to see that they can have a … delicious meal without eating meat.”

Flueckiger also discussed a possible incentive-based event around Meatless Mondays that would start next semester.
“What we’ll do is we can have stickers we give away, or people can sign up for a raffle,” Flueckiger said.

The goal is to “try to create some engagement around understanding how meat impacts the environment, just over the carbon footprint of meat, and how that one choice can actually make a real difference,” according to Flueckiger.

For “Meatless Mondays” to succeed, however, participation by both students and the dining hall is essential, according to Flueckiger.

“Ultimately, the program is for students,” he said.

“There has got to be a strong collaborative effort that’s made, and that’s my approach anyway, that we have to do this as a group,” Flueckiger added. “I think programmatically, [Meatless Mondays] can fit in really well with where we’re trying to go.”

The movement to go meatless for a day is not just an Amherst initiative, Gary said, but “a worldwide or a nationwide campaign that shows up in a bunch of different forms.”

According to Iaccarino, members of the class of 2018 held a “really big Meatless Monday” during their first year at the college.

“They would take over the entire front room,” Iaccarino said.

“When I was a freshman at Amherst, [GAP] tried to pick that back up again, but it just didn’t happen,” Iaccarino added. “There’s never enough people to sustain the movement.”

This time, they hope that the addition of appealing vegetable-based alternatives on the “Traditional” side of the dining hall, along with collaboration between the dining hall and GAP to raise awareness of the issue, will lead students to be more conscious about their meal choices.

“Our larger goal is to get it into people’s consciousness,” Gary said.

“It doesn’t have to be Monday where they go meatless,” she added. “I’m not a vegetarian, personally, but I understand my impact on the environment when I do eat meat, and so I’m definitely trying to reduce it as much as I can. We’re just trying to get people to think about it.”

GAP will continue to table in the Valentine atrium every Monday, and the Meatless Monday changes to the dining hall menu are expected to come at the beginning of the spring semester.