Last Monday, tofu at the stir-fry station stirred up protest from meat lovers, while produce in the grill line produced glee among veggie fans. Serving vegetarian cuisine every Monday was a sustainability initiative, aligned with a national trend towards reducing meat consumption.
Though many students and faculty members praised this most recent effort to reduce Commons’ environmental toll, dissatisfaction seems to have overwhelmed the dissenting opinions from the Phillips Academy community. Paresky Commons has decided to discontinue the project.
Commons gauged that a significant number of students are not willing to give up the choice to eat meat every day of the week. But students should consider this decision in more depth, starting with statistics. Girls and boys between the ages of 14 and 18 need between 5 and 7 ounces of protein a day, according to the United States Department of Agriculture. An egg is equivalent to 1 ounce of protein, as is a tablespoon of peanut butter, 2 tablespoons of hummus, ¼ cup of beans, 12 almonds, or 1 ounce of lean beef.
This means that if a student eats an eight-ounce steak for dinner, he or she has already eaten more than their necessary amount of protein, in just one meal. This won’t just make him or her feel uncomfortably full—in the long run, such eating habits may endanger health. Many vegetarian foods that Commons provides on a daily basis contain plenty of protein to meet the dietary needs of Andover’s most active students.
Beyond individual nutrition, the meat industry is a large blight to the environment. As Anna Lappé explains in Diet for a Hot Planet, “The livestock sector…is responsible for 37 percent of methane and 65 percent of nitrous oxide emissions.” Lappé warns that “methane…traps heat 23 times more effectively than carbon dioxide.” The meat industry contributes overwhelmingly to our climate conundrum.
The evidence shows that Meatless Mondays would be a step in the right direction for health and sustainability. So why have students ruled out the initiative after only one week?
Much of the opposition stems from the students’ belief that they are entitled to eat meat every meal. But Commons isn’t asking everyone to become vegetarians, but just to make a small sacrifice for a group effort.
The school motto may be non sibi, but when faced with Meatless Mondays, students have bent and perhaps broken their resolve. While the change to the menu may not match every student’s taste, all can consider the collective benefits of Meatless Mondays for longer than one meal.
This Editorial represents the views of The Phillipian Editorial Board CXXXIV.