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February 01, 2012
The GW community can compete for prizes, including lunch with the Knapps, by eating veggies and grains at J Street and Pelham Commons in February.
George Washington University will be sponsoring Meatless Mondays at J Street and Pelham Commons every Monday in February in order to raise awareness about environmental sustainability and a healthy diet.
Students, faculty and staff will be able to pick up a card when they check out in the campus dining venues and will be given a stamp for any meatless lunches or dinners they purchase on Mondays. (Because Monday, Feb. 20, is a holiday, meatless meals eaten on Tuesday, Feb. 21, will count toward the contest instead.) Once they’ve earned at least five stamps, students can drop their card in the designated bins in the dining halls and be entered into a raffle for green-themed prizes.
The green-themed prizes include a Brita filter pitcher, a Capital Bikeshare membership and a home-cooked, meatless lunch prepared by Rob Donis, university chef, held at the F Street House along with GW President Steven Knapp and Diane Knapp, chair of GW’s Urban Food Task Force.
Sodexo, Campus Support Services, the Office of Sustainability, GreenGW and the Environmental Law Association partnered together to bring the Meatless Monday initiative to GW. The idea originally came from Sharlene Morris, a second-year GW law student who is interested in the intersection of environmental and animal law.
“Going meatless on Mondays is a way to act in an environmental and animal welfare conscious way because the production of meat has a really big impact on our environment,” said Ms. Morris.
The meat industry generates close to one-fifth of all manmade greenhouse gas emissions in the world, and producing just a single pound of beef requires 1,800 to 2,500 gallons of water. Meat production also requires an enormous amount of corn, soy and other grains.
Isabelle Riu, a sophomore double majoring in international affairs and environmental studies, said the goal of the Meatless Mondays initiative is not to make everyone become a vegetarian. Instead, the purpose is to raise awareness about food sustainability and encourage people to think about what’s on their plate and where it came from. Meat will still be served at J Street and Pelham Commons on these days.
“Food sustainability is an environmental issue that not that many people know about or think about when they think about environmental sustainability,” said Ms. Riu, president of Green GW, a student organization that aims to increase environmental awareness and ultimately change on campus. “But the meat industry actually creates more pollution than the transportation industry.”
Students, faculty and staff can look for veggie-friendly signs on select food items on Mondays to help them identify non-meat options. Last month, J Street opened a new vegetarian, vegan and fresh fruit bar. Vegetarian options are also available at the new Aroma Indian station in J Street and the new ZeBi Café in Ames Hall on the Mount Vernon Campus.
“We hope that students will give vegetarian dishes a try and broaden their dietary horizons while participating in this fun program,” said Nancy Haaga, managing director of Campus Support Services.
The third place winner will receive the Brita filter. The second place winner will get the Capital Bikeshare membership, and a group of first place winners will be invited to a home-cooked, meatless meal with the Knapps. The winners will be announced in March.
“Meatless Mondays are a great opportunity for GW students to be able to try menu items that they might not normally try and at the same time participate in a global initiative,” said Rich Yokeley, Sodexo resident direct manager for GW.
The Meatless Mondays campaign is active in 23 countries.
In addition to improving environmental sustainability, the Meatless Mondays initiative is a great way to improve your diet, said Sophie Waskow, sustainability project facilitator in the Office of Sustainability.
Consuming foods like beans and whole grains results in higher intakes of fiber, protein, folate, zinc and iron, while at the same time reducing saturated fat and total fats.
“Universities have the opportunity to help students in their formative years make healthy and sustainable decisions,” said Ms. Waskow. “Practices that students develop in college will hopefully stay with them for years to come. Eating meatless at least one day a week is a great way to promote a healthy and sustainable diet.”