Meatless Mondays: Because Mondays aren’t Bad Enough

By Olivia la Bianca

Meatless Monday is an unnecessary limitation to student options.

On February 25, 2013, Messiah College students received a mass email from Lottie Nelson Dining Hall which indicated the adoption of the international “Meatless Monday” campaign.

The email states that the goal of Meatless Mondays is to “increase . . . meat-free options on Mondays and educate students about the health benefits of eating more meat-free meals.” This is an understandable and commendable goal.

But what exactly does this mean for Messiah students who are already feeling more than a little cramped by their dining options? Is anyone else feeling a little bit like Mom just told us to eat all our vegetables?

Of course, I am aware that there are many students on campus who participate in vegetarian diets by choice or by necessity. I respect that, and so does Lottie Nelson. On any given day, the menu represents a healthy balance between vegetarian and non-vegetarian food choices. But with the incorporation of the Meatless Monday menu, there are certain issues that have to be addressed.

In an interview, Executive Chef Percell Green admitted that “Meatless Mondays can be a very controversial topic.” However, he declined to answer any questions asking for clarification on this statement.

I would like to point out a few of the issues that might contribute to this “controversy”. The most obvious issue is that meal choices have now become even more restrictive than before. According to Green, Meatless Monday affects roughly 15 percent of the typical Monday menu. Granted, this is not a very significant number on paper, but for the average student who already has limited meal choices, it becomes much more significant.

Imagine swiping into Lottie on Monday afternoon. You are about to be faced with the imminent weekly reemergence of the dreaded turkey burger. Thankfully, you can just stop by the Speed Bump or the Grantham Grill, right? Unfortunately not, unless you want to partake in the infinitely health-conscious and equally unappetizing veggie burger or fish-filled taco wrap. Suddenly 15 percent seems like a much more stifling number.

Ultimately, however, the central issue is representation – or lack thereof. According to Green, Dining Services pitched the idea to the Student Government Association, who gave it the thumbs up. Green also said that “students all echoed the same thing” when it came to wanting more vegetarian choices on the menu.

However, this underrepresented omnivore doesn’t remember being polled or getting any kind of mass survey asking for her opinion on the menu change. In addition, there was little or no information about Meatless Mondays made public before the program was incorporated into the Lottie menu.

This is frustrating. As an adult, not to mention a student paying over $4000 a year to eat at Messiah, I would have liked to at least pretend I personally had a say in what I was going to be eating and when I was going to be eating it.

But I suppose the squeaky wheel gets the grease – or, in this case, the all-natural organic canola oil.

 

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