Hill dining hall offers meatless options on Mondays.

Credit: Ritika Philip

Where’s the meat? It’s going, it’s gone!

Executive Chef at Hill College House Donald Stauffer started a Meatless Monday initiative — also known as Lean and Green — this January to raise awareness and promote the practice of healthy, sustainable eating at Penn.

Every Monday, Stauffer serves a popular pasta dish made without animal products on the lunch menu at Hill House. Stauffer informally introduced the initiative last September. Since it picked up steam, it remained a regular part of the weekly menu this semester. Meat is not totally off the menu, however. The grill station still serves meat products like every other day.

“I felt it was an opportunity to do my part in offering students the option to participate,” Stauffer said. “It is an opportunity to bring to light our need to lower saturated fats and cholesterol in our diets as well as its role in fighting Type 2 diabetes.”

Stauffer’s efforts are only part of a larger global Meatless Monday campaign. Launched in 2003, Meatless Monday is a nonprofit initiative in collaboration with the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health that hopes to reduce the consumption of meat products by 15 percent of what it was at the start date.

Another hope for Meatless Mondays at Penn is to highlight the vegan and vegetarian options already available at dining halls like Hill College House and 1920 Commons. While Stauffer doubts chefs at other dining halls will adopt Meatless Mondays, he said that Bon Appétit is ready to listen to student suggestions for similar projects. They have already had conversations with Penn Vegan Society.

Christina Zhou has been the dining liaison for PVS since fall of 2014.

Zhou meets with one of the Penn Dining chefs or nutritionist Dan Connolly once a week to discuss the food being served on campus.

“We talk about ways to increase the amount of foods that are sustainable, that are ethnically satisfying and that are healthy,” Zhou said. “We are looking to provide a wider range of foods that are accessible to vegans, but that are also a great choice for non-vegans.”

A recent example of a desired change implemented is the addition of Smart Balance butter in Hill. Zhou and the Penn Vegan Society are also looking to add a vegan monotony-breaker to the list of Penn Dining’s calendar events. Monotony-breakers are different food-related events every month to prevent dining options from becoming stale and overused.

“When I first came to campus, I never would have expected the chefs and the Bon Appétit team to be so amenable to students’ requests,” Zhou said. “Bon Appétit is constantly making progress, and they are constantly willing to listen to student voices.”

Dining operations are only one facet of what PVS does.

“We also work with local restaurants and corporations to increase the awareness of what veganism is and to increase the feasibility of the lifestyle,” Co-President and College sophomore Brianna Krejci said.

PVS also works closely with Gourmet Grocer under 1920 Commons, making a list of desired products for vegan students.

Penn Dining has been so successful with their vegan initiatives that Penn has been entered into the running for peta2’s Favorite Vegan-Friendly College contest. In order to be considered for the contest, Penn had to earn an A on peta2’s Vegan Report Card. Voting for the first round ends Feb. 18.

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