I am an omnivore. I love the taste of filet mignon. Once in a while, I enjoy eating a Big Mac. But, I also understand that eating meat is oftentimes unhealthy and can be damaging to the environment.

In order to raise awareness about the environmental and health-related consequences of eating meat, a wide group of students, sports teams, campus organizations and college staff have created an event called Meatless Monday.

The Johns Hopkins School of Public Health created the Meatless Monday campaign to promote the health and environmental benefits of eating less meat.

The Meatless Monday campaign website encourages participants to limit their consumption of meat on Mondays in order to "reduce the risk of chronic preventable conditions like cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and obesity" and "help reduce your carbon footprint and save precious resources like fresh water and fossil fuel."

Over 20 major universities participate in Meatless Monday, including Johns Hopkins, Carnegie Mellon, UC Davis, UC Santa Cruz, Oxford, McGill and Barnard.

Meatless Monday at Bowdoin is currently a one-time event. On February 21, Thorne and Moulton Union Dining Halls will not serve meat.

Thorne will serve cheese ravioli, eggplant parmesan and spicy black bean burgers. Moulton will serve quesadillas and stir-fry. For students worried about not getting enough protein, dining will provide special vegetarian high-protein options on the salad bar.

The environmental studies department, EcoReps, Peer Health, the Bowdoin College Democrats, nordic skiing, Swimming and diving and a host of other student sports teams and clubs are sponsoring the event to raise awareness about the benefits of limiting the consumption of meat.

After this one-time Meatless Monday event, the Bowdoin Student Government will hold a meeting on March 2 to discuss if Meatless Monday should become a regular event at Bowdoin. All students are welcome to participate in this discussion, and Bowdoin Student Government will likely survey students responses to the Meatless Monday event.

Meatless Monday supports the environment by lowering students' carbon footprints and conserving water and energy. Meat consumption accounts for 18 percent of the United States' greenhouse gas emissions. These greenhouse gas emissions come from transporting, refrigerating, packaging and mechanically producing meat.

In addition, animals naturally produce methane, a greenhouse gas, and require feed, produced with its own environmental costs.

Whereas eating a half-pound of beef releases the same amount of greenhouse gases as driving your car 10 miles, eating a half-pound of potatoes releases the same amount of greenhouse gases as driving your car 0.2 miles.

Raising livestock, packaging meat and growing cattle feed also require a tremendous amount of water, a limited resource, and thus, reducing meat consumption will help conserve water.

Lastly, limiting meat consumption conserves energy. As you may remember from high school biology, each level of the food chain only passes on 10 percent of its energy, as much of it is lost through respiration and indigestible biomass.

When a human eats a grain, less energy is lost than when a human eats an animal, which in turn eats grain. Students can support the environment and reduce their carbon footprint, energy use and water use, by supporting Meatless Monday and eating less meat.

Meatless Monday is also beneficial to students' health. According to the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, diets heavy in meat are associated with obesity, a modest increase in total mortality and higher rates of cancer, diabetes and heart disease.

Considering these statistics, as well as the fact that the average American eats 45 percent more meat than the FDA recommends, Meatless Monday provides a good way for students to reflect on whether their diet is healthy and contains the right amount of meat.

As Head Chef of Moulton David Crooker says, Meatless Monday is a "great way to get us thinking about what we eat in this country and its effects on our health." Students can improve their health by supporting Meatless Monday and eating less meat.

Remember, currently Meatless Monday is a one-time event intended to raise awareness about the consequences of eating meat.

I urge you to keep an open mind this coming Monday at dinner, and most important think about the consequences of what you are—and are not—eating.

Ben Richmond is a member of the Bowdoin College Democrats and the Class of 2013.