Before continuing, Meatless Mondays should face student scrutiny


Natalie Wendt

The Meatless Mondays lunch on Jan. 31, 2022. No-meat lunches could continue beyond January.

By Cooper Tenney

It could continue indefinitely.

While the initial plan for Meatless Mondays was to only continue for the month of January, no-meat lunches on Mondays could very likely continue forever. 

The biggest question around campus seems to be this: How long will Meatless Mondays actually continue? 

“I have agreed to do a trial run of Meatless Mondays for the entire month of January and then, after that, depending on feedback from the Branson community, I may offer it going forward once or twice a month,” Marcus Trigg, Branson’s head chef, said.

Let’s start with the benefits. The community has always enjoyed Branson’s hot lunches. Yet perhaps we could reconsider the impact our food has on the environment and climate change.

“The evidence, I would say, is irrefutable” that eating less meat helps the environment, science teacher Peter Zdrojewski said. “With climate change, which is a reality, this is one small thing to take away one meal out of five days.” 

Branson’s practice of removing meat from the meal plan one day per week will reduce the school’s carbon footprint, save water and save money, he said. Methane is a greenhouse gas that is released into the atmosphere by cows as a waste product. Additionally, the water used to sustain the food for the animals from which the meat comes is a huge amount.

Furthermore, in favor of keeping Meatless Mondays indefinitely, the price of a plant based meal is actually $500-$900 cheaper than a meal with real meat in it. 

The student leaders in charge of the project did not respond to emailed questions by the press deadline.

“As a school that believes in sustainability and believes in doing good work to fight against climate change, I would hope that we would [continue Meatless Mondays] indefinitely,” Zdrojewski said. “I’m gonna fight tooth and nail to make sure it is longer than a month. … Our school can and should do a lot more to address climate change.”

Now, let’s review the negative side of Meatless Mondays.

Meatless meals lack the vivacity of real meat. Beyond Meat’s blandness does not meet the standard of most Branson lunches.

There are also benefits to the meat industry, such as cattle ranches helping with regenerative soil which can actually fight climate change. 

Meatless meals lack the vivacity of real meat. Beyond Meat’s blandness does not meet the standard of most Branson lunches.”

Leftovers that the kitchen ends up with following a Meatless Monday meal cannot be donated or repurposed because the meat substitute does not hold up as well as real meat, leading to more food waste.

Other feedback from the Branson community on Meatless Mondays included the presence of, for example, Beyond Meat and the overall taste of the meat substitute. Zdrojewski said he’d prefer beans and vegetables over meat substitutes.

And meat substitutes often have more saturated fat and additives than normal meat, which can be detrimental to health. These ultra-processed imitation meats can contain more than triple the sodium of real meat.

The financial impact of water use on site, transportation and other impacts of normal lunch days are also negligible at Branson, when compared to Mondays, according to David Hanson, Branson’s chief financial and operating officer.

Students shared some opinions on Meatless Monday.

“I personally don’t mind it too much,” Noam AuYeung, a junior, said. “It doesn’t quite taste as good … as normal meat does, but I’m not a picky eater, so I’ll deal with it.”

“I’d rather have actual meat than put chemicals in my body. To me, it doesn’t even taste like meat,” Oliver Goldman, a sophomore, said. “And while I admire the environmental cause, I think there are other ways to carbon offset, and I think we should end Meatless Mondays,” he said.

With all of this in mind, what should Branson do moving forward with Meatless Mondays?

We should commend Branson’s kitchen for its flexibility and the student leaders for actively helping to stop climate change. Yet Meatless Mondays should not force students to eat vegetarian if they do not desire to.

Student leaders should send out a survey asking for student input and feedback. If the feedback favors continuing Meatless Mondays, the kitchen can keep the meatless policy. But if not, the school should end Meatless Mondays.