Work with your school cafeteria to create a totally vegetarian menu for Mondays of each week. Thanks to Elisabeth Andre of DeLaSalle High School for this action plan!

WHY LESS MEAT?

  • Climate — More than 7% of global greenhouse gas emissions are from the meat industry. Eating a vegetarian diet for just one day can cut your carbon footprint by 7.5 pounds of CO2.
  • Justice — The meat packing industry has a bad track record of exploiting workers, especially poor rural individuals, immigrants, and refugees.
  • Health — Eating less meat can make you healthier; there’s less risk of cancer, heart disease, and diabetes.
  • Delicious — Vegetarian meals can be incredibly yummy!

PROJECT STEPS

  1. Do your homework: Research the impacts of the meat industry on climate, health, and justice. This website can be very helpful.
    • Research affordable, delicious vegetarian menu ideas for school cafeterias.
    • Figure out who you need to get approval from for this project (likely the kitchen staff and principal), and figure out out what might convince them. Maybe it’s best to go to the student council first, if you think you can convince them easily, and then bring their support to the principal.
    • Determine how much meat your school cafeteria currently serves.
  2. Make a pitch: Create a presentation, including facts and sources, that will get your audience excited to support Meatless Mondays. Your first audience is the decision maker (i.e. kitchen staff and principal). Make it easy for them to say yes.Some ideas for your presentation:
    • Why it’s important
    • Statistics on the meat industry’s impact globally (water, emissions, pollution)
    • Benefits for students at your school (physical health, examples of schools and prisons who successfully chose vegan options and see results – much lower rate of returning to prison, students focus better have more energy)
    • FAQ: where do you get your protein
    • Ideas for meal options
    • If your school has particular values (i.e. if it’s a religious school or committed to social justice) talk about how this fits those values
  3. Collaborate with the kitchen: Work with your school’s kitchen staff to create a delicious menu, and create a signed commitment to work together. On this contract, you might ask the kitchen to promise to do Meatless Mondays on specific dates of the year, every Monday after a certain date, and/or not to end the program without a student council vote. In return, you could promise to have Green Team volunteers spread the word.
  4. Get student support: Meatless Mondays will only last if students enjoy it. Make it fun. At DeLaSalle High School, students served samples of the new foods so that students could taste it before getting a plateful. They also created videos to explain why meat-free is the way to be – at least on Mondays. As you spread the word, be sure to recruit people to your future projects!
  5. Respond to feedback: Conduct a survey where students get to express what foods they like and dislike on Meatless Mondays. Work with kitchen staff to change things. If other problems come up, help work through them together.
  6. Celebrate success: Calculate how much meat you’ve replaced with vegetarian meals, and how much carbon, water, and money that saved your school. Announce the results to your school in a fun way, and talk about the human impacts of reducing meat consumption, too. Take photos and email yeamn@climategen.org to share your story.
  7. Keep building: Meatless Mondays is a great way for your whole school to know about your Green Team. Give them a way to get involved! “Did you like cutting our carbon footprint by 2%? What if we got our school to commit to zero carbon emissions by 2040?! Join us for a meeting to discuss our next project to make that happen.”
USDA photo by Photo by Bob Nichols

Success story

At DeLaSalle High School, students on the Green Team prepared a presentation and met with the student council, which approved the idea the next day! Then, the president of the student council met with the principal, who was also excited – partly because the Pope had just released the encyclical on climate change, and DeLaSalle is a Catholic school. Then, the Green Team worked with the kitchen staff and made Meatless Mondays a reality!

FOOTNOTES

Keep in mind that food regulations may limit what your school can serve.