Walking around Rastall this past Monday evening, you could find an abundance of meal options, mostly coming in sets of three options: grilled cheeses, frittatas, pizzas, and pasta. There was the usual salad bar, with produce coming from local farms including CC’s very own, cereals, and a variety of desserts. However, there are no meat products in Rastall because it is, in fact, Meatless Monday.
Although Meatless Monday is a nationwide concept existing in other college campuses and restaurants, it came to CC three years ago after a demonstrated interest from students. Bon Appétit listened to the student demands and implemented Meatless Monday in Rastall. Derek Hanson, Director of Operations for Bon Appétit, says the transition to a Meatless Monday was easy, although the first year was when they faced the most backlash.
Both Hanson and Dan Schoenstein, a line cook in Rastall, say that the strongest outcry against Meatless Monday comes from the athletes on campus who are concerned about getting enough protein after a tough practice. Both Hanson and Schoenstein encourage athletes who are concerned about the lack of meat to dine at either Benji’s or the Preserve, both of which still serve meat on Mondays.
This Monday, some disgruntled sophomores had forgotten it was Meatless Monday and didn’t realize until they were swiped in. “I wish there was a way that you could set it up so your gold card wouldn’t let you swipe into Rastall on Mondays,” said Jared Hanson, a member of the hockey team.
Cross Country Captain Annie Taylor says, “I’m glad it’s only one day a week because as an athlete, I like getting protein from meat. I do appreciate the idea behind it though, and think it’s a good way to support eating sustainably.”
Lee Farese, senior, has been very involved with sustainable food practices both on campus and in the larger Colorado Springs community and is also is a supporter of Meatless Mondays. Farese says he thinks it’s important for students at CC to learn how to make a healthy and filling meal without meat. “What does it say about our culture that we are in outrage that we can only have meat six out of seven nights a week,” said Farese.
Farese also references the book “Eating Animals,” in which the author cites a United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization report showing that the livestock sector is responsible for about 18 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, which is 40 percent more than the entire transport sector. However, Farese actually eats meat , but chooses to “vote with his dollars” and only eat the best grass-fed meat , such as that from Larga Vista Ranch.
Derek Hanson says that Bon Appétit also shares many students concerns in having sustainable meat. Bon Appétit currently gets about 75 percent of the school’s meat from Ranch Foods Direct’s Colorado Springs location, which is also hormone- and antibiotic-free.
One point of controversy for students was over Bon Appétit’s decision to purchase a portion of its chicken from Tyson, a company with a reputation for unpopular meat-raising practices.
However, Hanson makes it clear that Bon Appétit and its corporate office hold Tyson to a higher standard; everything CC buys from them is all-natural, hormone-free, and antibiotic-free. “To get a big company like that to think about what they’re doing and change the way they do business, then that product betters for everyone and not just us,” said Hanson.
Julian Kraus-Polk, junior, did an audit of all of Bon Appétit’s purchasing invoices from Block 8 last year. He also was aware of Bon Appétit’s logic in switching from local Wisdom Chicken to Tyson, but added, “Skeptics believe that this switch is an expression of bigger corporate pressures because Bon Appetit is under the umbrella of Compass Foods Inc.” Kraus-Polk was sure to mention though that he believes Bon Appétit has been a huge improvement from CC’s previous catering company, Sodexo.
Starting Block 2, Benji’s will resume selling the popular turkey dinner on Meatless Mondays. In fact, Benji’s usually makes an additional $1,500 on Mondays. This shift towards campus eateries with meat is also reflected in the decrease of diners in Rastall on Mondays. An average weeknight in Rastall sees between 400 and 500 diners, whereas Monday is typically around 300 people.
Bon Appétit wasn’t able to give any hard numbers about the amount of meat consumed in Rastall on an average day or how much less meat is consumed on campus on a Monday. Schoenstein did say that in an average day, Rastall easily goes through 150 pounds of meat. More specifically, this past Tuesday, Rastall made 40 pounds of Kung Pao chicken.
Bon Appétit is not planning on changing its meat sourcing or service plans in the future, so something like an all-campus Meatless Monday would not happen. Hate it or love it, Meatless Monday looks like it is here to stay. “If nothing else it’s a discussion point….it encourages thoughtfulness about food,” said Farese.