Kitchen Addresses Beef with Meatless Monday

It was an ordinary Monday at a school in a quiet Scottish town. The students dragged their tired bodies from class to class and slumped in their seats, and it wasn’t until lunch time that the children began to stir. Oddly, the usual 200-foot snake of students awaiting their lunch was nonexistent. There were murmurs of a classmate fainting from hunger. It became clear that this was no ordinary lunch break. This was a showdown, a hunger strike by the students to end what they viewed as a grave threat to their survival: Meatless Monday.

 Though perhaps not as extreme, many students at Lakeside also dislike Meatless Mondays. 60% of respondents to the Tatler Poll expressed this dislike, with only 40% saying the opposite. While there were a few advocates, they were outmatched in intensity by the critics. One such critic claimed that the tradition is “totally useless, especially when the school offers vegetarian/vegan options every single day.” In the midst of this intense controversy, Tatler reached out to Director of Food Services Ben Resnick to hear the kitchen’s perspective on the student body’s concerns.


Meatless Monday is not so much about promoting a vegetarian diet as it is about limiting the school’s environmental impact. According to Resnick, “Meatless Monday was voted in by the student body after the Environmental Green Team gave a detailed discussion on the benefits of reducing our carbon footprint.” Research supports this view. The University of Colorado Boulder reported that for every meatless day, each participant lowers their carbon footprint by 8 pounds. 

So, it seems that Meatless Monday was not an attempt by the vociferous vegetarians to impose their lifestyle on their classmates. Even still, many students may acknowledge the benefits of Meatless Monday for the planet while still objecting to the dishes served. When asked what their favorite Meatless Monday dish was, several respondents stated that they enjoyed the grilled cheese.

Meatless Monday is not so much about promoting a vegetarian diet as it is about limiting the school’s environmental impact.

If every Monday Lakeside served grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup, Meatless Monday would be a smashing success, but the kitchen still strives to include healthier meals in a careful balancing act. “Generally…[Meatless Monday is] healthier for the student body. We try to add the same amount of protein — 3 to 4oz — to every meal regardless of what we serve.”  If one day, the kitchen serves a fatty and caloric meal, they’ll “try to follow it up with some lean protein and vegetables,” so unfortunately for many, the dream of every Monday being Grilled Cheese Monday is far off. Nevertheless, the kitchen acknowledges that the healthier meals are rarely as popular. “The healthier [the meal] is, the less we serve. That goes for every meal…When we do a dish like mac and cheese we sell the same amount…It really depends on the menu item and not so much the meatless option.”

For students who still find it difficult to change what their taste buds fancy, Peter Byerlein, a member of the food staff, approached this distaste in a different way. Speaking from a personal perspective and not on behalf of the kitchen, he claimed that putting up with foods one is not fond of is “part of growing… I understand that you don’t like it…but at Lakeside, we want to be a leading-edge school, and at a leading-edge school, sometimes you have to do something that’s against the norm.”

Is Meatless Monday an offense to the tastebuds of Lakesiders, an eco-friendly practice, or even a tradition central to the ethos of Lakeside? Evidently, it depends whom you ask. If you truly can’t stand Meatless Monday, perhaps a hunger strike is a bit unnecessary. Meatless Monday came about as a student-led campaign, and if it goes, it will likely follow the same process, but if you are one of its few enjoyers, ensure your friends understand the motivations behind Meatless Monday. It’s easy to hate something you don’t understand, and by either educating the student body or coming to a compromise, some pea-ce during lunch on Mondays can hopefully be reached.