UNC debates 'Meatless Mondays' plan

CORRECTION: Due to a reporting error, the original version of this story incorrectly stated that the initiative is an extension of Durham Health Innovations. The Daily Tar Heel apologizes for the error.

UNC students are trying to save some of the 83 to 100 animals most people consume each year.

Eleni Vlachos, a local advocate for veganism who has been using that statistic to educate people nationwide, is helping students expand vegan and vegetarian menu items at campus dining halls.

If Carolina Dining Services approves a proposal drafted by students, all Mondays would be designated as “Meatless Mondays.”

Biology major Brandon Hays presented the student proposal to dining services Monday.

The proposal follows a recent national trend to promote veganism and vegetarianism on college campuses, including East Carolina University and Davidson College, said Vlachos, who is also a community relations contractor for Duke Medicine.

Vlachos recently traveled to universities around the country to promote her documentary on the benefits of veganism.

She said some schools went as far as to eliminate meat entirely from Monday menus.

UNC’s proposal would not eliminate meat and animal products from the menu on Mondays, Vlachos said. Instead, it would provide a greater variety of vegan-friendly food, such as imitation chicken.

Proponents said providing processed vegan items instead of traditional meat could save the dining halls money.

The initiative was brought forward by a team of five UNC student groups.

“A lot of students don’t really know where their food comes from or the impact of the choices they make everyday when they go to eat,” Hays said.

By eliminating meat from the diet once a week for a year, it is as beneficial to the environment as not driving 1,160 miles, she said.

Currently, Rams Head and Lenoir offer vegan and vegetarian options — but not as many as some students would like, said Scott Myers, director of Food and Vending Services.

“There is always the ability to put together a vegan meal, but sometimes you have to forge your way around the dining hall,” Myers said.

“What we try to work on vegan diets with is (telling them) to get something from the salad bar and then get some vegetables from the entree and vegetarian lines to put a full meal together,” he said.

Meatless Mondays would make veganism and vegetarianism the focus of meals — instead of just an option.

Recently, dining services has started labeling vegan and vegetarian food items on the various entree station display screens.

Vlachos believes Meatless Mondays, if approved, would provide UNC students with an opportunity to be creative in showing the benefits of veganism.

“UNC can really take this to another level and hopefully be a model for other schools,” Vlachos said.

Contact the University Editor at university@dailytarheel.com.

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