Dining halls begin to go beef-less on Thursdays
In an effort to provide a more sustainable and healthy menu, UCLA Dining Services goes without beef one day a week.
By Greg Swartz
Originally published in The Daily Bruin
UCLA Dining Services recently announced a new decision to remove all beef from the dining halls every Thursday beginning today for the duration of this quarter.
The move toward “Beef-less Thursdays” is meant to advance UCLA’s sustainability and wellness goals, said Robert Gilbert, the sustainability coordinator for Housing and Hospitality Services.
Beef is an environmentally unfriendly food item because cows require a great deal of water to raise and they produce methane, which is a greenhouse gas, Gilbert said.
In fact, the methane that cows naturally produce is 23 times more potent than carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas, he added. This means that the raising of beef contributes about twice as much to global warming as the equivalent amount of other meats.
Beyond environmental concerns, beef is high in saturated fats, which have negative implications on health.
As a vegetarian, Michelle Gertmenian-Wong, a second-year communications studies student, has experience finding meat alternatives. She said she feels there are many alternatives to eating beef.
“Taking meat out of your diet doesn’t have to a be a huge struggle,” Gertmenian-Wong said. “There are many satisfying ways to get protein.”
Eliminating beef every Thursday could allow people to branch out and perhaps try new foods they would have otherwise passed up, she added.
By removing beef from the menu, the dining halls hope to save about 1,000 pounds of beef every Thursday, Gilbert said. Since every pound of beef demands approximately 1,500 gallons of water to produce, this sustainable action could save 1,500,000 gallons of water, he added.
Any money saved in this endeavor will be used in the dining halls for programs promoting sustainability such as buying cage-free eggs, Gilbert said.
He added that even if these sustainable programs do not save money, UCLA Dining Services remains more concerned with balancing per-plate cost for students with environmental goals.
While the dining halls will have no beef, the program does not apply to Bruin Café, Rendezvous or Puzzles, he said.
But first-year geography student Isaac Tucker said he believes that students should have the choice to avoid beef.
“If students are well-informed, it should be up to them to choose whether or not to eat beef,” he said.
Kristin Rumery, a second-year sociology student, said she supports the program wholeheartedly for its positive environmental impact.
“It’s good to see UCLA taking steps to become more responsible environmentally,” Rumery said. “Beef-less Thursdays are like Hedrick going trayless – at first people might be upset, but they’ll adjust.”
Published: Monday, April 06, 2009