Jared Misner: Time for UF to try meatless Mondays

Published: Monday, January 10, 2011 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, January 7, 2011 at 12:16 a.m.

We have a lot of choices in this country, perhaps too many choices.

We have the freedom to choose whom we elect. We can choose between crunchy and creamy peanut butter and between Jay and Conan.

Some of our daily choices mean very little in the grand scheme of our day. But other choices we make affect others and affect the world.

Gator Dining Services and the University of Florida have recognized some of our choices indeed affect the rest of the world.

When I first brought the Meat-Free Mondays campaign to UF, early in the fall semester, I was told we'd be laughed at. And perhaps we were.

But we've made change that will positively impact our bodies, our planet, starving men and women across the globe and the 27 billion animals who are unnecessarily slaughtered every year to be put on our plates. That's what I like to call a legacy.

When I brought the idea of serving a vegetarian menu in UF's two dining halls on just one day a week to leading sustainability advisers at the largest land-grant college in the Southeast, I was told it would probably never happen.

But it did, with the help of GatorWell, Gators for a Sustainable Campus. UF's Office of Sustainability, Animal Activists of Alachua, the Humane Society of the United States, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, the EarthDay Network and the signatures of 2,250 concerned UF students and faculty.

With factory farming, the source of 99 percent of all meat in this country, producing more greenhouse gases than any method of transportation combined, UF has realized that making the choice to reduce our meat consumption just one day per week is a choice we not only should make, but need to if we plan to live here much longer.

If every American reduced meat consumption by just 10 percent, which is less than one day per week, enough grains would be freed up to feed 60 million starving people.

UF has come a very long way in realizing the importance of this change, but it still has a long way to go. As Gator Dining Services encourages and advertises for a Meat-Free Monday, both dining halls serve meat on Monday. Some might even say they serve more meat than any other day upon looking at the on-line menu. It's up to all of us to help Gator Dining Services realize we care about changing our world for the better.

It's up to all of us to be the change we wish to see in the world.

Jared Misner is the campaign organizer for The Campaign for a Meat-Free Monday at the University of Florida.

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