NAU students petition for Meatless Mondays on campus
More than three percent of adults — about 7.3 million people — in the United States follow a vegetarian diet. Through a movement known as ‘Meatless Mondays,’ NAU students are attempting to make the campus more vegetarian-friendly for those seeking both a healthier lifestyle and meat-free food choices.
“Meatless Monday is a new thing we are trying to bring to the university by having a vegetarian section available every Monday,” Ana Lael, a NAU student said. “So, that way, if people want to go meatless, they have the option.”
The movement is sponsored by a branch of the pro-animal rights organization, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). This branch, known as ‘PETA2,’ is aimed specifically towards students. Through the website — peta2.com — students have access to a range of materials assisting in making a school dining hall more vegan and vegetarian friendly. This includes petitions, sample menus and leaflets with information about the benefits of a meatless diet.
“We hope to get a lot of delicious food, of course,” Lael said. “Vegan pizza, vegan ice cream or anything you can currently find in the dining hall. Anything can be made vegan and delicious. We hope to get a lot of those goodies here.”
Sample meals include black bean enchiladas, vegan ravioli and soy chicken Parmesan.
More than 35 universities nationwide have already begun participating in the movement — including Columbia, DePaul and the University of California: Berkley.
“More and more students across the country are deciding to go vegetarian for many reasons,” Lael said. “One of the main reasons is animal cruelty: chickens have their beaks removed when they are only days old, male pigs are castrated and cows are de-horned without any type of painkillers. More students are trying to go vegetarian for these reasons, so we are trying to make it easier for them.”
Lael said NAU wants to see more support for the movement before anything is made permanent. In order to do this, numerous students are working to gather more than 1,500 petition signatures requesting that the university offer only meatless dining options at least one day in week.
To gain support, students and PETA2 representatives distributed free, vegan hot chocolate outside of the University Union on Nov. 17 in hopes of gaining petition signatures.
“We had over a thousand signatures on the Meatless Monday petition, and we are hoping to continue to get the same response,” Lael said. “We’re hoping to get everyone really excited. We have a lot of people who want to go vegetarian, or are and want more options, so it’s been going really great.”
To an extent, Meatless Monday has already been adopted on NAU campus, according to Catherine Sullivan, Campus Dining sustainability specialist .
“We piloted Meatless Monday the Monday of Earth Week last spring semester, and received positive feedback to the event,” Sullivan said. “We have been participating in Meatless Mondays this fall semester since National Food Day in October, and plan to continue to do so. The campaign encourages individuals to limit their intake of meat for one day, for three meals. We enhance our vegetarian options at the Hot Spot, but do not limit the participation to only this location; at any of our 28 locations you can go meatless.”
Though more than 1,500 signatures are necessary, Sullivan said the efforts are well worth the ecological benefits.
“Environmentally, we save valuable resources like water and energy by going meatless, since it takes less energy and water to grow plants then to raise animals,” Sullivan said.