The Sustainability Steering Committee is a group on campus that is devoted to creating more sustainable practices at Lawrence. This column highlights some of their recent initiatives in order to educate students on sustainable options and plans available to them.
Many people have heard of and even implemented “meatless Mondays” each week, where, as the name suggests, one eliminates meat in their diet every Monday. However, three students on campus are trying to push meatless Mondays a step further at Lawrence. Juniors Eli Ferrell, Quinn Giglio and Elyssa Pfluger are working with the Sustainability Steering Committee and Bon Appétit to implement vegan Mondays in the Commons, the Café and Corner Store.
Giglio outlined the three primary reasons why they are looking to make this change on campus: “One of the reasons is for personal health and knowing more about what you are putting into your body and making healthy decisions. Another reason is the environmental concerns that comes from deforestation. One of the biggest concerns that comes from deforestation in the Amazon is to grow soybeans and corn to feed to cattle and to raise cattle. The whole industry creates a lot of [Carbon Dioxde]. The third reason is animal cruelty. Everyone hopes that they can have cruelty-free meat, but it just really doesn’t exist in our current system.”
Ferrell said that the trio wants to empower and enable people but not force them, which is why it will ultimately be up to students to decide whether or not vegan Mondays become a staple at Lawrence. “We have great Bon App chefs and great resources, and they are already taking into account people with nut and soy and gluten allergies, so it’s all going to be taken care of,” said Giglio. “We hope that it’s going to be so good that people don’t even notice.” Students will be able to sign a pledge to support implementing vegan Mondays, and once the pledge garners enough support, the decision will be taken to the Lawrence University Community Council for a vote.
To those who may not agree with the push for vegan Mondays, Giglio said, “We want one day a week; it’s not asking for much. It’s just saying, take one day out of your week to be conscious of these issues and learn something, support something and take these steps forward into the future.” Giglio added, “It’s not necessarily a versus sort of system. That’s why we are aiming for just one day a week. Everyone is aware of and understand that the meat industry creates a lot of [Carbon Dioxide…] We are not trying to battle anyone; we aren’t trying to take down anyone’s belief systems; we are just trying to help educate people. A good meal is a good meal, and if it just so happens to be vegan, that’s great.”
When asked why they were pushing for a vegan day instead of a vegetarian one, Ferrell said, “The dairy industry, the egg industry […] we sort of see it all as one industry. In terms of health and the environment, there’s really no difference to us between animal [products] and vegan.”
The group is in the phase of educating the campus community, getting the word out about vegan Mondays and gathering info on what students want to see. “If this is to happen, it’s going to be student-driven,” Ferrell shared. “It’s not us telling people what to do. We just want to get the word out.” Students should expect to see posters around campus and announcements on Lawrence social media sites that share more information about vegan Mondays and how to show support to the movement.
The trio are excited to be a part of something new happening on campus but want people to know that it’s not likely to be a short-term change. They want to establish a cultural shift on campus and even possibly inspire other schools to make similar changes.