Art by Caitlin Roark
The beautiful thing about entering a new year is having a clear starting point to evaluate personal health and eating habits. It can be easy to get bogged down by the defining labels of vegetarian, vegan, flexitarian, pescatarian, keto, etc., when looking at global eating habits.
A 2008 study commissioned to RRC Associates by Vegetarian Times shows that 3.2% of U.S. adults follow a plant-based diet, while an additional 5.2% of people express an interest as more information has become available.
Pepperdine students and faculty have the privilege of looking at what fits their individual lifestyle and makes a positive contribution to the environment.
It is critical for the administration to assess the institution’s carbon footprint in the areas of student consumption so that they do not continue to disproportionately contribute emissions.
Meat production is objectively one of the largest contributors to carbon emissions.
“If cattle were their own nation, they would be the world’s third largest emitter of greenhouse gasses” notes Paul Hawken in his book “Drawdown.” These gasses then fill the atmosphere and create a greenhouse effect leading to a warming of the planet.
Smaller nations with minuscule carbon footprints are the first to become climate refugees and suffer losses from climate change because they do not have enough resources on their own to survive in their changing environment. The U.S. is the second-largest carbon emitter, yet vulnerable places like the Marshall Islands will be of the first civilizations to disappear.
The negative environmental impact alone is a strong enough reason to consider reducing consumption.
Alongside positive global effects, there are personal benefits to reducing meat consumption that lead to a healthier public such as less inflammation and lower cholesterol. If the thought of cutting out meat for the betterment of the environment and others sounds unreasonable, perhaps look inward and see the personal advantages of less meat.
While it’s great to think about the benefits that come from a healthy lifestyle change, it can be difficult to implement new ideas as college students. Luckily, the Waves Cafe offers vegetarian meals and students can participate in Meatless Mondays.
Students can wait to eat their first piece of meat until dinner each day or embrace the natural proteins that come from beans and tofu.
There are many protein-rich alternatives available. It is not difficult to provide healthy alternatives if the administration is willing to do so. This campus must start acting with an interest in sustaining its environment through sustainable food choices in the Waves Cafe and partnering with ethical food providers.
The most important step in moving toward meat reduction is being allowed to fail. There are barriers to accessibility and it is important to recognize that not everyone has an array of food choices available to change their eating habits.
Students with meal points can strive to eat meatless one meal a day with a salad or a vegetable pizza in the Waves Cafe. Students living off-campus can set a goal to plan plant-based meals at home for dinner when they are home from a day of classes.
Pepperdine is currently looking for a new food company to partner with. The students can make their voices heard and call for an ethical and sustainable food provider.
We must remember that the path to sustainability is not straight, but mindful meat consumption is a powerful first step in the right direction.
Email Lexi Scanlon: firstname.lastname@example.org