Dear Editors of the Collegian:
We write in support of the Collegian’s Oct. 24 editorial, “Reconsider Meatless Mondays.” We thank the Collegian for bringing attention to the numerous reasons why one should adopt a vegetarian or vegan diet — even if only for one day a week.
As mentioned in the editorial, the negative environmental impact of meat is an especially compelling reason to reduce meat consumption. Unless greenhouse gas emissions are reduced significantly in the coming decades, catastrophic effects will be felt worldwide. We must change the way we treat this planet or the most disadvantaged will suffer the consequences.
Kenyon students often rightly stress the need for bold, structural changes to tackle environmental issues; just one month ago, several student organizations gathered on the steps of Rosse Hall as part of a global climate strike to voice these very demands. We can argue about the best way to ensure the well-being of our planet, but one thing is clear: Politicians will not implement policies aimed at protecting the environment unless there exists clear public support for them.
That is why the Student Council’s unanimous decision to not hold a vote on Meatless Mondays reflects so poorly upon us as a student body. Kenyon students were given the rare opportunity to enact change (as small as it may be) by collectively forgoing meat consumption just once a week. But we — a well-educated, progressively-minded bunch — refused. On what grounds can we ask politicians for massive overhaul when we balk at even minor inconveniences for ourselves?
Indeed, for the vast majority of us, changing our diet once a week would only be a minor inconvenience. Special care should be taken so that the menu accommodates all allergies and dietary restrictions, but the fact is that no one needs meat every day to be healthy. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics has stated that even athletes can get sufficient protein, iron or other nutrients from non-meat sources. Implementing Meatless Mondays will make it apparent just how easy it can be to sustain oneself on a vegetarian or vegan diet.
To claim that one needs meat at every meal skirts our political responsibility to enact those changes we wish to see and to support structural overhaul with more than just words. For these reasons, we join the Collegian in urging the Student Council to reconsider its decision.
Cameron Austin, Jeremy Baier, Megan Hasenfrantz, Dina Knott, Carly McDonald, and others
Officers and Members of the Kenyon Vegetarian, Vegan, and Plant-Based Society
This letter was edited for length and clarity.