Two more schools have adopted Meatless Monday, integrating a weekly plant-based diet into their dining programs. Miami University of Ohio and SUNY Binghamton in New York have each launched the initiative at the urging of their students, tailoring the program to suit the cultures of their respective campuses.
At Miami University, a simple lottery system has spiced up the Meatless Monday station: students who opt to for the meatless entrée, available at all four dining halls every Monday, may enter their names into a dropbox to potentially collect one of six gift card prizes. By incentivizing an everyday choice, the program’s organizers have found an effective way to get students to try vegetarian dishes they might otherwise ignore, and to discover the unique and wonderful flavors that a plant-based menu can offer.
At Binghamton, a grassroots campaign evolved from the efforts of a single student, senior Carlos Konowalskyj, who first learned about Meatless Monday by word of mouth. An Environmental Sciences major, Konowalskyj had a natural predilection for sustainable services. So when he heard about Meatless Monday, he said “it just seemed like the obvious thing to do.” The program’s true strength, Konowalskyj claims, lies in its flexibility. He elaborated:
“Meatless Monday is great because it doesn’t encroach too much upon people, but it introduces them to a plant-based diet. …I think it’s a very good and effective transition, and a useful tool.”
Konowalksyj began by “tabling” at the dining halls every Monday, offering information and support to students who were interested in the initiative. But eventually, he wanted to get the school’s dining services provider—Sodexo—involved. When Konowalksyj approached them, he didn’t have to do much convincing: Sodexo’s representatives were more than amenable. “[They] were very passionate and knowledgeable about it as well,” he said.
With logistical support from some other student-run groups, including IDEASforBinghamton, Konowalskyj collected over 1000 student signatures, enough to convince Sodexo and the administration to implement Meatless Monday every week. He and his peers promote the program via social and local media, as well as in-situ signage, banners and posters.
Konowalskyj says that the Sodexo coordinator for Binghamton reported a greater student response for the inaugural Meatless Monday than any other event in her tenure. For his part, Konowalskyj just wants to keep improving. “We plan on making each Meatless Monday as good as we possibly can,” he said.
It’s a sentiment we can all agree with.