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Credit: Drew Kobasa

This week, Penn Dining launched a “Meatless Mondays” campaign to encourage students to eat healthier and consider their personal impact on the environment.

Meatless Mondays is not exclusive to Penn, but rather is part of an established global campaign. The program will run every Monday at lunch in all University dining halls. The meat typically served in the “comfort” lines, “expo” stations, and soup kettles will be replaced with a plant-based food.

Despite the emphasis on meatless meals, there will still be options for students who do not wish to participate. Both the grill and the deli in dining halls, as well as retail locations will still serve meat. This decision to continue with omnivorous options was not one made lightly, though ultimately Penn Dining chose to have options for all students.

“We had a lot of discussion on how we wanted to do this,” Resident District Manager of Bon Appétit Stephen Scardina said.

Penn Dining and Bon Appétit worked with the student-run Dining Advisory Board to institute the program. College sophomore and board chair Hannah Sanders said she believes this new addition to the dining halls will educate Penn students about the importance of what they eat.

“You can start with one day and start making a difference,” Sanders said hopefully. “Diet is a really neglected area when it comes to what people are willing to do [for the environment].”

Sanders noted that livestock contributes more to global warming and greenhouse gas emissions than transportation.

“One hamburger uses the same amount of energy to produce as charging your phone for 4.5 years,” Sanders said.

Facts like these shape Penn Dining’s emphasis on sustainability. This focus on environmental issues can be seen in various initiatives and practices, like the use of compostable plates in the New College House dining hall.

“This is something that is totally in line with what we are doing,” University spokesperson Barbara Lea-Kruger confirmed. “[Students] need to learn how to choose to eat.”

The student response to Meatless Mondays has yet to gain a clear voice, but for now many students seem pleased. College freshman and vegan Caroline Curran recognized the new program as progressive.

“In terms of reducing the environmental impact of the things we eat, I think it is a step in the right direction.”

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