UB students pledge for Meatless Monday

Students to abstain from meat once a week in an effort to reduce meat-based meals on campus


Kaitlin Halligan stopped eating meat when she was 13 due to her passion for animal rights. She wants her fellow UB students to make the same dietary change, at least for one day of the week.

Halligan has brought the Meatless Monday pledge to UB in an effort to encourage students to reduce meat from their diets. Meatless Monday is a non-profit initiative with a goal of reducing meat consumption by 15 percent.

Students promise to reduce their meat consumption by eliminating it from their diets just one day a week on Monday’s. Students also have the option to receive weekly e-mails about where they can find meatless meals on campus.

So far, 124 UB students have taken the pledge.

Halligan, a junior chemistry and pharmacy major, transitioned from vegetarianism to veganism a year and a half ago.

Her dietary changes led her to become a campus organizer for the Humane League, a non-profit dedicated to promoting animal rights.

“Meatless Monday shows [that] you can make changes on a small scale that can have a huge impact without having to give up everything you’ve been doing your entire life,” Halligan said.

Halligan said she has witnessed students who have just one meat-free day a week frequently reduce their overall consumption of meat. She said abstaining for meat for one day gives students an added level of consciousness in their food choices.

Abstinence from meat could have potential ramifications for the environment, individual health and could help to raise awareness for the treatment of animals.

Livestock are responsible for 34 percent of United States’ methane emissions. Methane, the nation’s second-most prevalent greenhouse gas, has more than 20 times the climate change impact of carbon dioxide, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

UB has worked to provide more meatless options both in the dining halls and on-campus.

Lori Bendersky, a registered dietitian for Campus Dining and Shops, will be working with executive chefs at UB to tweak recipes and come up with new menu items over the summer.

“Campus Dining and Shops has taken strides to increase meatless options on campus, not only for vegans and vegetarians but for all students who are looking for variety and alternative sources of protein,” Bendersky said in an email. “Some efforts include [expanding] Edgy Veggie to two locations [and opening] our new Seasons Café that focuses on local, seasonal and organic produce that has received positive feedback from the vegan/vegetarian community,”

Still, Halligan said there is more work to be done.

Halligan said the current options for students reliant on campus dining are not enough for someone transitioning their eating habits.

“You need to have more than just salads – I love salads, but they’re not all I eat,” Halligan said. “That’s why the pledge is important, it gives us a platform to go to Campus Dining and Shops and speak with the dietitians.”

She said the pledge shows that a large number of people want more meatless options.

Oscar Pyda, a junior marketing major, said the Meatless Monday pledge is a way for students to “objectively make the world a better place.”

For Pyda, education is key to understanding the true scope of the meat issue.

“Countless studies show that meat consumption is responsible for about every diet related health problem,” he said. “It also is responsible for the overwhelming majority of fresh water consumption, deforestation, green house gas emission and species extinction.

Pyda said those who care about the security of the planet should recognize that “most of the damage is done at the dinner table.”

A 2015 survey of college students in the United States performed by the Panetta Institute found that 80 percent of college students viewed the threat of global warming as a serious problem.

“If students don’t agree, it’s not because they’re bad people,” Pyda said. “They just either haven’t learned enough about it and haven’t had that ‘A ha!’ moment yet,”

Sarah Crowley is a news staff writer and can be reached at news@ubspectrum.com.