Bowdoin's first ever "Meatless Monday" produced a wide range of reactions among students this week, some laudatory and others severely critical. In the eyes of some, the meal was a success that demonstrated the health and environmental benefits of reducing meat consumption; for others, however, the event was a heavy-handed attempt to curtail dietary choice.

The Bowdoin College Democrats (BCD) sponsored the meal with the support of other student organizations as part of the semester-long "Meet What You Eat" program intended to raise awareness about eating locally.

According to Director of Dining Service Mary McAteer Kennedy, the total number of students who ate at the dining halls fell within normal range for a Monday night. Dining Service fed 1,169 students on "Meatless Monday," 68 fewer students than the previous Monday. She also noted that the comment cards regarding the event were overwhelmingly positive.

More students ate at Moulton, which Kennedy says could indicate that students thought the Moulton menu, which incorporated more traditional vegetarian fare such as ravioli, was stronger.

Jack Magee's Pub, which featured an egg and bacon-topped cheeseburger as its Monday special, earned $1,668 dollars on the night. This total was $468 more than the previous Monday, and Kennedy estimates there were around 60 more people there than usual.

BCD Co-President Katy Shaw said she considered the overall event a success.

"It went so well," Shaw said, "it felt really good to be able to have conversations with people about what we were doing and why we were doing it; even though some people who got dinner and didn't like the idea and left, to be able to have conversations about something on campus is awesome."

Although Shaw noted that BCD will "definitely" recommend that the event continue in some form to Bowdoin Student Government (BSG), she explained that the future of "Meatless Monday" is ultimately out of her control.

"It's a student initiative at this point," Shaw said. "I think there is strong momentum to do a student survey to ask people how it went and give people options for a bunch of different ways that it could be implemented [in the future]."

For her part, Kennedy said that the Dining Service "has not been looking to remove meat from the menus on a regular basis," and that there would need to be "a groundswell of student support for such a significant redesign of the menu."

"To take meat off the menu was hard for some students," said Kennedy. "I think there are some students who are glad that it's over."

Indeed, some students were not at all pleased by the compulsory nature of "Meatless Monday" and student protests were visible around campus. Some students demonstrated their discontent by bringing buckets of KFC into Thorne while others held a barbecue outside the building.

Perhaps most visible were seniors Sam Landis and Sean Healey, who organized an "Eat Meat to Save Animals" cheeseburger fundraiser for the Coastal Humane Society. They set up a table in the lobby of Coles Tower and gave away McDonald's Double Cheeseburgers to anyone who agreed to donate to the animal shelter.

Landis detailed the motivation behind their actions in an e-mail to the Orient.

"Our objection to 'Meatless Monday' was not so much about the lack of meat or the encouragement of environmental conscientiousness (which we support) but the shallow and inconsiderate manner in which it was carried out," he wrote. "Raising awareness for a cause is one thing, but to have a vocal minority impose its will onto the rest of us and then attempt to stifle dissent is outrageous."

Landis and Healey were also responsible for putting up protest posters in Coles Tower, which they claim were destroyed "within minutes."

"With the exception of the few obnoxious vandals ripping our posters down, our ad hoc resistance effort was met with overwhelming student support," said Landis.

Sophomore David Bernstein, who did not eat at either dining hall on Monday—due to illness, he said, not out of protest—echoed this sentiment of displeasure with the compulsory nature of the meal.

"You're forcing students to eat non-meat products when they paid for meat," he said, "One dining hall would have been fine."

"Forcing it on people is my problem with it," agreed DJ Hatch '11.

In response, Shaw explained that the option of only one meatless dining hall was considered, but ultimately dismissed due to fear that students would overwhelm the other.

"Dining plays a role in your meal choice every time you go to the dining hall, and 'Meatless Monday' was no different," she said.

Shaw, who spent dinner on Monday answering questions at an informational table in Thorne, also took issue with the charge that only a "vocal minority" supported the event.

"One of the coolest parts of the event, for me, was to have so much support coming from so many different places," she said. "From the conversations we had last night it did not feel like a vocal minority, it felt like the majority of students were either for the event or neutral about the event."