“You don’t have to become a vegan overnight to make a difference,” said Montclair Animal Activists Vice President Erin O’Connell regarding her campaign to spread the Meatless Monday initiative across Montclair State’s campus.
Meatless Monday is an initiative started by the Humane League that offers a healthy and easy diet that can also benefit animals and the environment. This proposal exists as a way to spread awareness about the advantages of becoming vegetarian and the cruelty caused by the meat industry.
“Even if you’re not eating meat once a week, you’re still making a huge difference for yourself and for the environment,” said O’Connell.
O’Connell started working for the Humane League this semester and was inspired to adopt this national campaign at Montclair State.
“I think it’s just the idea that everyone can make a difference,” O’Connell said, “and you don’t have to be fully vegan to make a difference.”
She also believes that Meatless Monday is an appropriate way to spread awareness about factory farming and animal cruelty in the meat industry.
“There are millions of animals that die every day and so much of the food gets thrown away,” O’Connell said. “So much of the environment is destroyed because of the waste that factory farming creates.”
This initiative was positively received by students on campus. One student in particular found the campaign useful because it’s a quick and more effective change than “those flyers with the scary pictures of dead animals.”
“Every time I get a flyer I’m like, ‘Wow I should do somethink about this,’ but then I have no time to even think about that,” said sophomore Rebecca Tash. “Meatless Monday seems like such an easy change that I just need to stick to if I were to actually try to combat factory farming.”
Although most recipients of the message were interested, one student expressed concern about fitting this initiative into her diet when she already excludes meat during religious holidays.
“I could understand why most people would want to do it,” Montclair State freshman Alexa Bufi said. “I have to do it for Lent and Easter so I kind of do it anyway, but meat is such a big part of my life that I wouldn’t be able to do it more than that.”
Bufi voiced a concern that it may be difficult for residential students to adopt this initiative because they are stuck with dining hall food, but Tash assured that there are diverse options.
“I know I can always have the salad bar. They always have vegetables, and they have to have one tofu option,” Tash said, describing the meal options at Sam’s Place, a popular dining hall on campus. “Yes, you don’t have that many options, but it’s not like you have none.”
O’Connell has been collecting signatures and emails to send updates on the Meatless Monday initiative. The emails consist of facts and statistics that show the change people could bring by agreeing to this initiative.
“It’s not like you have to be doing everything in your power,” O’Connell said. “You can just take a small step.”