BSG discussed the controversial "Meatless Monday" event that occurred on February 21 at its weekly Wednesday meeting. The event, which was meant to raise awareness about the health and environmental issues of consuming meat, has stirred up much campus debate among students in recent weeks.

Co-president of the Bowdoin College Democrats (BCD) Katy Shaw '11 and member Ben Richmond '13 organized the event and explained the rationale behind "Meatless Monday." They also addressed the various reactions they received from the student body.

"The campaign is all about moderation," said Shaw. "It's not that I will never eat meat again, but the event was all about raising awareness."

"Meatless Monday" is a national initiative that began at John's Hopkins University's Bloomberg School of Public Health. The project is part of a larger "Healthy Monday Campaign," which stresses healthy habits at the beginning of each week. "Meatless Monday" has also been conducted at several other schools across the country, including Yale, Columbia, Pomona, Carnegie Mellon, University of California-Davis, University of California-Santa Cruz and Barnard.

After presenting the health and environmental drawbacks of meat consumption, Shaw and Richmond introduced data from the College's Dining Service regarding dinner on February 21. While Thorne and Moulton Dining Halls both had near average numbers for a Monday night, Jack Magee's Pub served nearly 60 more people than the previous Monday.

A variety of students, representing both sides of the debate, also attended the meeting to voice their opinions.

Sam Landis '11 stated that students should have a right to choose what they eat.

"We all know how expensive meal plans are," he said. "I understand that the event was about raising awareness, and that is great, but maybe it should only be at one dining hall in the future, so we can choose."

Richmond and Shaw acknowledged Landis' point, suggesting that "Meatless Monday" at other schools had not generated the same amount of controversy because meatless options were only served at one location, instead of every dining hall.

"The decision to have meatless options at both dining halls was a decision made by Dining Service from a practical standpoint," said Shaw. "Dining feared that if they served meatless options at only one dining hall, employees [at the dining hall serving meat] would have to deal with long lines of angry people."

"It also allowed Dining to test the strength of two vegetarian menus against one another," she added.

Cameron Weller '11 was one student who offered support for the event.

"I think that the notion that students have choice in eating what they want is not entirely accurate," said Weller. "Every day, Dining chooses to serve us items that are nutritious and are indicative of their dining philosophy, which is that students should be well-fed and should be aware of healthy options."

"I think ['Meatless Monday'] is good because it opened up students' eyes to issues that aren't always in the forefront. I am not saying it should be every week, but if we do it once a month or once a semester, I think it can really do a lot of good," she added.

According to Weller, who worked a table at the event, most of the student reaction to "Meatless Monday" was positive.

"I know there were a lot of loud voices out there that were screaming 'no,' but I think that there were more, quieter voices that enjoyed the event and appreciated that Dining Service was willing to try something new," she said.

In their presentation to BSG, Richmond and Shaw offered various ways in which the event could be repeated. They suggested the possibility of offering meatless options only at one dining hall, as well as serving a "beefless" meal. While the production of all meats has a significant environmental impact, beef production requires the most water and releases the most carbon dioxide.

Vice President for Academic Affairs Jordan Francke '13 asserted that "Meatless Monday" was not an "assault" on people's choices, as it was perceived by some students.

"Dining Services frequently exposes people to different food cultures," Francke said. "We have 'Soul-food' night, Maine food night, and I don't see how offering vegetarian meals is any different."

Before voting on any course of action for the future of "Meatless Monday," many BSG representatives wanted more information on how students felt. In order to effectively gauge student opinion, BSG decided to create a survey for distribution.

In other news, BSG unanimously approved a measure that would endorse a statement by BSG members to Bowdoin's local representatives in the Maine State legislature. The statement condemned the legislation currently being proposed that would make it harder for students that have changed residences to register to vote.

BSG also voted to not allow clubs to send mass paper mailings through student mailboxes. Next week, BSG will discuss the possible creation of a bulletin board in Smith Union that would provide student organizations with an alternative method to reach out to students.