Senate Sustainability Committee hosts Meatless Monday

April 20, 2018

Waiting to swipe into Lower Usdan Dining Hall, students saw a colorful sign introducing “Now Serving: Meatless Monday with Red Lentil.” Upon entering the dining hall, students stood in line to be served butternut squash bisque, seitan marsala with mashed rutabaga and tropical quinoa salad from Chef Pankaj Pradhan on Monday, April 16.

Chef Pradhan is a vegan chef and consultant from Red Lentil, a vegetarian and vegan restaurant in Watertown, MA. In addition to Chef Pradhan providing vegetarian and vegan options, members of the Senate Sustainability Committee were also present, displaying information on the benefits of a meatless diet in relation to Earth’s health “in regards to waste, water and energy usage,” according to the Facebook event.

Nutritional information of the foods was also provided. Some dishes presented by Sodexo included mini samosas, vegetable risotto cakes with cherry chutney, baked ziti with marinara sauce and a veggie chili bar. Meatless Monday was not the first event that partnered Sodexo with Red Lentil.

The Brandeis Sustainability Fund (BSF) provides financial support to students who are willing to take on projects that will help improve Brandeis’ environmental sustainability. In the 2017-2018 academic year, a portion of the BSF (around $37,00) went to the project “Plant Power” designed by Eliana Koehler ’21, Shalom Krinsky ’21, Lily Swartz ’20, Cody Smith MBA ‘18 and Tamar Lieberman ’19.

The project would involve Chef Pradhan coming to Brandeis to work with Sodexo to “help them expand their vegetarian/vegan menu and add exciting recipes to it,” according to the BSF’s website. “The goal is to encourage our student body to eat more plant-based food and to more comfortably transition and adhere to plant-based diets, ultimately improving the dining halls’ environmental impact as well as its impact on the treatment of animals,” the summary on the BSF website said.

Oliver Price ’20, member of the Senate Sustainability Committee and Class Senator for Charles River and 567 South Street, mentioned that the Plant Power project took place over Spring Break and that the Sodexo chefs were excited to learn new recipes. Price assisted in the forming of the Meatless Monday event due to his participation with the Senate Sustainability Committee and the Dining Committee the previous semester. He said that the collaboration between the two committees and the support of both sides allowed the event to occur as both gave positive feedback.

The number of hours put into planning the Meatless Monday event was very few once the support from both sides was given. “I think that is telling of how easy it is and how it could be pursued in the future especially now that we have this groundwork,” said Price. “We had overwhelming positive support.”

The goal of Meatless Monday was to offer students a way to be sustainable and bring awareness to the benefits of a plant based diet. “The main goal is to have it be that not having meat in a dining hall should not be an event,” said Price, suggesting that having meat offered only a few days a week in the long term would not be surprising to students and would be a more sustainable option overall.

Price clarified that the Senate Sustainability Committee is not trying to force vegetarianism or veganism, but rather raise awareness of the ways that industrial meat production is harmful to the environment and offer alternate, more sustainable options. “Our goal was for someone to come in expecting to eat meat and realize there are other alternatives that are good, sustainable and healthier in the long run,” said Price.

In the future, the Senate Sustainability Committee hopes to continue to host Meatless Mondays on a more regular basis, and perhaps offer the event during new student orientation.
“The goal of the Sustainability Committee is to try to increase environmental literacy,” meaning awareness, consciousness and general education for topics such as meat consumption and recycling.

“Your reduction can really help in the long run and not only your own health but also the health of the environment and the health and livelihood of other people,” Price said.

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