After 2,000 signatures were gathered around campus dining halls, USF students will finally be able to take part in Meatless Monday – a national movement to eat healthier throughout the week.
Meatless Mondays at USF are part of a national campaign “to promote and educate students on the health, economical and environmental benefits of a reduced meat diet,” said Jenna Burns, marketing manager for USF Dining Services.
All three USF dining halls will host meatless options on Mondays, marked with a “Meatless Monday” tag. Meat will still be offered on Mondays, but a $1 coupon for vegan and vegetarian grab-and-go meals will save students money on meatless options.
The campaign’s website, meatlessmonday.com, said studies suggest that behaviors started on Mondays are maintained throughout the week.
Kristie Almeida, president of Students Protecting the Environment and Animals with Knowledge (SPEAK), said Meatless Monday will have a positive effect on students.
“Basically, on Mondays, it highlights the vegan and vegetarian options in the dining halls and helps promote a healthy start to the week,” Almeida said. “It has been shown that a vegetarian diet can help reduce risks of things like heart disease and diabetes.”
Burns also said that keeping up a vegetarian diet can help the environment.
“From a sustainability perspective, producing meat requires more water usage,” Burns said. “And animal agriculture is the largest source of CO2 emissions in the U.S.”
Before USF, Aramark, the University’s dining management company, adopted Meatless Mondays at the University of Florida and the University of Central Florida. The company made the meals possible, but USF students petitioned for the change after coming back from winter break.
“SPEAK, along with PETA, collected over 2,000 signatures in support of the program the first three days of school (this semester),” Almeida said.
While the campaign presses students to eat their veggies, some say that it won’t change what they’re craving.
Heather Hilton, a sophomore majoring in psychology, didn’t opt to go meatless and said she didn’t know what to think about the campaign.
“I think I would go with whatever option I wanted in the first place,” Hilton said. “I don’t think I’d let (the campaign) affect me.”
But Hilton said she thinks that students might go vegetarian on Mondays to save money.
“I think (students would) pick the vegetarian option because it’s cheaper with the coupon,” she said.
Drew De Bate, a sophomore majoring in music studies and interpreting, also said she didn’t know if she would participate in the campaign, but that she’d try some of the vegetarian options.
“I think that some people who are on the fence about it may go vegetarian, but I think more people will stay the way they are, or just eat less meat,” De Bate said. “I don’t think it will make an impact on students.”
Meatless Mondays options will be available in the C-Store in the Andros Center, the POD Market in Juniper-Poplar Hall, the Engineering Express Shop in the Engineering II Building, the Marshall Student Center Food Court, Coba Cafe in the business building and in the Health Sciences Cafe in the Health Sciences Bookstore.