The Daily Pennsylvanian is a student-run nonprofit.

Please support us by disabling your ad blocker on our site.

“I’m a weekday vegetarian.” Sounds like a twig-legged college girl guiltily chowing down on a Wawa Salsa Chicken flatbread. Sounds like she’ll soon elliptical away her meal only to reorder the Wawa staple or opt for a cheeseburger at the end of her next night out. Sounds like a confession “Overheard at Penn” might immortalize.

However, the topic is not as transitory as it may at first seem. While I’m a full-time vegetarian, “weekday vegetarianism,” which involves choosing to forgo meat some of the time, is becoming a more-accepted lifestyle. It’s a movement that everyone can understand regardless of their views on animal rights.

Part-time vegetarianism was the topic of a recent nonprofit Technology, Entertainment, Design presentation by Graham Hill, the founder of the environmental blog

Hill thinks Americans should cut back on meat for reasons relating to environmental protection, personal health and sustainable development, instead of animal rights. He said he never contests that humans are indeed on top of the food chain. And if you take his line of reasoning one step further, my guess is that he’d applaud the guilt-stricken, twig-legged college girl on her sometime-meatless habits (though he may encourage her to get off the elliptical and into the great outdoors).

If you’re like me, protecting the unalienable rights of cows and chickens doesn’t exactly tickle your fancy, but preventing world hunger and global warming definitely does. Hormone pumping and stockyard crowding aside, there are plenty of reasons to consider occasionally forgoing a chicken nugget or two.

The meat industry is responsible for more emissions than all forms of transportation combined. Raising cattle only produces 10 percent of a caloric return. That means for every 1,000 calories we feed a cow, we get only 100 calories of meat. Also, Hill said in the presentation, producing beef takes 100 times the water it takes to produce vegetables.

“If we stopped intensively breeding farmed animals and grew crops to feed humans instead, we would easily be able to feed every human on the planet,” claims

But let’s say your criteria for choosing your next meal are purely selfish. There are reasons for you to consider cutting back on steaks and hams as well.

Eating a diet with less meat is healthy. Besides not being stacked with high fructose corn syrup and salt, vegetarian diets are associated with lower levels of heart disease.

Time recently supported the weekday-veg movement with an article claiming that the average American eats up to 220 pounds of meat per year, and only 14 percent of us get our recommended five servings of fruit and veggies per day. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, Americans consumed an average of 57 pounds more meat in 2000 than they did annually in the 1950s.

Our carnivorous habits have gotten out of hand because we consume more meat than needed to lead a healthy lifestyle. But who here wants to say their final goodbye to Geno’s cheesesteaks and crunchified Bobby Blue Burgers?

Thankfully, we don’t have to swear off steak forever to improve our environment and lessen world hunger. Simply cutting back on our meat intake could have a huge impact.

You’re an athlete you say? You need your energy? Consider Scott Jurek, a devoted vegan who won the Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run seven consecutive times and broke the world record by running 165 miles in 24 hours earlier this year. If he can eat vegan and manage that, Penn students can surely have the energy to make the dash from the Engineering Quad to Huntsman Hall.

Gone are the days when “rabbit food” was only for tree-huggers and animal-rights fanatics. Anyone with a global conscience is eligible for this growing trend, even if you’re only a part-time member.

Kensey Berry is a College sophomore from Little Rock, Ark. Her e-mail address is Berry Nice appears on Tuesdays.

Comments powered by Disqus

Please note All comments are eligible for publication in The Daily Pennsylvanian.