Monday, October 20, 2014

WasteLess - Eat Meat Free!

WasteLESS Week is this week! From October 21st to October 23rd. WasteLESS Week is a Sodexo run program to encourage employees and customers to waste less in all aspects of their lives. Because we are dining services, we will focus on decreasing waste in the dining hall. However, this week can be a push for people to waste less in all areas!

How does Meatless Monday tie in with wasting less? Well, Meatless Monday created this info graphic that explains how producing meat can be extremely wasteful.

The facts show that in terms of waste, a meat free diet produces a lot less waste than a meat filled diet. Greenhouse gas emissions and water usage are much higher when producing meat. In addition, the manure that animals create has methane gas in it, which is another greenhouse gas that is harmful to our environment. Overall, decreasing the amount of greenhouse gases emissions and water usage could lead to a huge difference for our environmental sustainability. Consuming less meat is one way to decrease the amount of resources we use.

Aside from reducing our consumption of meat and balancing our diet with plant based proteins, there are other ways we can waste less in the dining hall.
  1. Only take what you can eat!
    •  You can always get more food, and by taking only what you can eat you skip the risk of having to throw food out if you are too full to finish what's on your plate. 
    •  MyPlate can help you portion your meals, so that you are getting a balanced and sustaining meal.
  2. Use one plate, and bring it back up with you if you get more. 
  3. Be conscientious of how many napkins you are using.
  4. Compost and recycle anything that you need to throw out!
    • In the dining hall and retail areas, we compost all food waste and recycle all recyclables!
 Next time you are eating on campus, keep these things in mind. Together we can waste a lot less!

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Monday, October 13, 2014

Meatless Monday Starts Young!

Meatless Monday is our opportunity to be a part of a larger change.

The change that Meatless Monday brings is part of a global movement. What better way to start than young?

Sarasota County schools in Florida fully committed to Meatless Mondays this past Monday, October 6th. This makes Sarasota the first district in Florida to participate in the program.

Schools within this district will offer no meat on Mondays. Instead, they will provide hummus, vegetable subs, pastas, salads, bean dishes, etc. After a trial period, the school will survey student reactions and satisfaction to see if the program should be altered or maintained. All in all, this program will get kids to think about eating healthier, so that they will be at a reduced risk for obesity and other health complications as they grow up.

Creating habits from a young age is crucial. Kids will learn to adopt certain ways of living that will stick with them for the rest of their lives. Meatless Monday has been around for a long time, but is increasingly becoming more popular now. Our generation hasn't grown up eating meat free on Mondays, but it's possible that generations to come will.

Here we have the opportunity to adopt this new movement before ahead of the game. We are only college students now. But when we start having children, they are bound to be exposed to these programs as they enter the school system. It's important that we educate ourselves on issues that will affect our future generations so that we can work with them to achieve whats best for our planet as a whole.

Currently, Ithaca Dining Services only highlights meatless options on Monday. However, we still provide some meat choices for those who do not participate in Meatless Monday. As demands on our planet increase, going completely meatless on Monday could be a reality.

What are your thoughts on Meatless Monday in our dining hall? Should we entirely phase out meat every Monday? Or is it necessary that we give students a meat choice?

Here is a chart created by Johns Hopkins Medicine. It shows what other sources of protein you can consume other than meat!
Happy Meatless Monday, 
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Monday, October 6, 2014

Watering your Diet

Over the past 3 years working at Ithaca Dining Services as a sustainability intern, I've seen a lot of Meatless Monday facts and have done a great deal of research on the resources it takes to produce meat. However, I'm still always shocked when I see the numbers. For instance, I recently came across this graphic:

The amount of resources that it takes to produce meat as compared with vegetables is huge. In fact, when you look at our earth's water footprint, 27% of our water usage goes towards the production of animal products, whereas only 4% of water usage can be attributed to water use at home (kitchen, bathroom, etc.). This means that a slight change in diet can have much greater impact on conserving water than water saving precautions we take at home such as shorter showers. 

When comparing the meat versus vegetarian diet, it's clear to see the differences in resource usage. For instance, the average carnivorous diet requires 3,600 L of water per day, whereas a vegetarian diet only needs 2,300 L of water per day. This is a 30% decrease in water consumption from not eating meat. You can only imagine the magnification of these numbers when more people start to eat meat free - even one day a week!

What is most interesting, is the breakdown of why animal production needs so much water. Your first thought may be that animals need a lot of water to drink. Thinking about the million of animals in production - that's a lot of drinking water! But actually, drinking water only contributes 1% to the total water usage of animal production. The biggest factor is actually the amount of water it takes to grow the animal feed: 98%. Because this feed is then eaten by animals, only 10% of the potential energy from that feed is transferred to the animal. This process of energy loss as you increase in trophic levels explains to us why it is more efficient to consume lower on the trophic level (such as plants).  Humans directly eating plant material, instead of eating animals that have eaten the plant material first, is an efficient use of resources.  But again - balance is key! Check out this diagram below explaining trophic levels and the loss of energy:

But what about the days when you do eat meat? Still conscious of your water resource consumption? Different types of meat actually have varying levels of water required to produce them: 

Being informed about the food choices you make is so important. I hope that you can take these facts and figures, and turn them into something meaningful for your diet! 

Happy Meatless Monday, 

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Check out our Meatless Monday Specials:
Take the Meatless Monday Pledge: