On November 4 a group of students launched the Meatless Monday initiative, with the goal of making WHS lunch options more sustainable and environmentally friendly. While the aim is to eventually phase out meat entirely from the cafeteria on Mondays, the initiative’s first step has been to remove red meat. Junior Jackie Liu said she was inspired to start Meatless Monday after experimenting with her own diet.
“I have been vegan for almost two years now and one of the main reasons why I am is because of environmental sustainability,” Liu said. “I wanted to use my knowledge and my passion to bring something beneficial to my community.”
After sending around her initial proposals, Liu formed a committee of other students hoping to be involved.
“I was excited to get involved with Meatless Monday because it is a great platform to educate people about the negative environmental effects of meat production, and to contribute to reducing those harmful effects,” junior Katherine Cheston said.
Members of the committee suggested that the Meatless Monday initiative can be viewed as an educational effort.
“I would say it is a challenge to balance the preferences for different lunch options of many students, but I think a l
ot of this is about educating our community,” junior Mimi Gotbetter said. “Changes like this can be uncomfortable, but I hope this effort will make everyone more aware of the delicious, healthy, protein alternatives that exist and how easy and important it is to implement them into our daily lives.”
The committee members recognize that change can be difficult as they have started to implement this new change with red meat.
“I think people need to realize that if we want to have less of a carbon footprint we need to start somewhere, and reducing demand for meat will reduce the supply and thus carbon emissions,” Cheston said.
According to Liu, over ten teachers have expressed interest in assisting with the initiative. Liu plans to present to the School Committee in January.
“With the student survey sent during Advisory, we received both praise and backlash, which ultimately helps us move towards creating solutions where everyone is happy and content with what WHS’ cafeteria has to offer,” junior Kimya Jalinous, who also serves on the Meatless Monday committee, said. “There is no straight path towards change, but compromise can help our community achieve it.”
The team has been able to work past logistical issues in order to implement the Meatless Monday initiative.
“There are some challenging factors that are immovable in our efforts, such as district budgets, and meal plans for the cafeteria,” Gotbetter said. “But overall, I was incredibly impressed and grateful to see how supportive the Weston faculty has been in getting our initiative off the ground.”
The committee of students has also been working with the cafeteria staff in order to effectively implement Meatless Monday or variations on it.
“The team is working really hard and I’m very proud of how they’re going about it,” food services manager Wendy Howard said. “I would like to be at the forefront with doing some of these things. My main priority is keeping most of the students happy, not just a few.”
For members of the committee, Meatless Monday only represents the first step to further environmental action at WHS.
“I feel that all students must play a role in changing the culture around sustainability at Weston High School,” Gotbetter said. “For example, in some other school communities it is the norm to use a reusable water bottle at school, rather than purchasing one, while this is less common in Weston. This type of cultural change happens when students choose to make small choices to prioritize sustainability, and therefore set an example for others.”