The Meat of The Matter


Erin Lobovsky, Contributing Writer

What is a Meatless Monday? Well, a Meatless Monday is exactly what it sounds like—a day that encourages people to eliminate meat from their diet. While many may believe that one day without eating meat won’t have any

substantial benefits, there are numerous environmental advantages that come from a single day without meat. 


In 2003, Sid Lerner, in partnership with Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future, an environmental health and engineering department which works toward a healthy and equitable food system, started the Meatless Monday Movement. This program offers meat-free recipes, marketing materials, and other free resources to

support this movement. Many schools are jumping on the Meatless Monday Movement!


 So, what are the environmental benefits of a Meatless Monday, and how can schools help?


Meatless Mondays help reduce water consumption, can lead to the release of fewer gasses into the air, and save the lives of animals. According to the University of Colorado Bolder’s Environmental Center,  it takes approximately 1,850 gallons of water to produce one pound of beef but only 39 gallons to produce one pound of vegetables. If one person were to remove beef from their diet for just one day a week, the water consumpti

on required for their diet would decrease by 58%.


Air pollution, as well as water pollution, will continue to get worse, due to the meat industry. Mr. Brownstein, the AP Environmental Science and Climate Change teacher at Hastings High School, told me that “globally, meat production is one of the biggest contributors to carbon emissions. While there are sustainable ways to produc

e meat, we [the people] are not doing it.” 


The Clean Air Council estimates that 18% of global greenhouse gas emissions are caused by the meat industry. Not only does the polluted air diminish the ozone layer, it is also a cause of death throughout the United States. In a report by National Geographic, 16,000 deaths annually in the U.S  were caused by air pollution, of which 80% percent are specifically related to food production, including meat.


Mr. Brownstein continued, “In addition to carbon emission issues, there are land issues.” He explained that massive areas are destroyed and deforested in order to create pasture to raise cattle; this happens for every type of meat produced. Smithsonian Magazine reported that 26% of land on the Earth’s surface is currently used to raise cattle. In order to protect land for biodiversity and reduce climate change, the article concluded, people need to reduce their consumption of meat by 50%.


Although it will not solve the problem by itself, Meatless Monday could go a long way to helping. There are some simple and inexpensive ways schools like ours can contribute to a Meatless Monday. Schools often believe a Meatless Monday comes at a cost, but according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average price for one pound of meat is $4.25, while the average price for one pound of vegetables is $1.80. Another concern schools often express is the need for kids to get enough protein, but there are vegetarian options like beans, nuts, eggs, yogurt, tofu and broccoli that are chock full of protein. The Meatless Monday campaign provides numerous healthy recipes for schools, but families can also find simple alternatives to meat right on their kitchen shelves. 


Mr. Brownstein acknowledged that one person and one school won’t make change on a global scale, but if each year, he is able to introduce a group of his students to new ways of thinking, he is positive this will lead to positive outcomes. He added, “I do think it’s going to be your generation to make the change, not mine.” 


The point of Meatless Mondays is to educate and inspire people to think more about their carbon footprint. And that small changes can make a big, if not a global, impact.

Three Easy and Quick Vegetarian Recipes


Chickpea Wraps


Ready in: 30 mins

Serving size: 2 people 

Recipe by: HurryTheFoodUp



  • 1 can chickpeas (1 can = ca. 14oz/400g)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp paprika (smoked paprika if you have it)
  • 4 small tomato
  • 1 medium red onion
  • 2 tbsp vinegar (malt or red wine vinegar is best)
  • 1 avocado
  • ½ lemon (juiced = 1.5 tbsp)
  • ½ cup creme fraiche (½ cup = ca. 100g) (use soy yogurt to keep it vegan)
  • 3-4 tsp sriracha (or harissa or sambal oelek (use less if you don’t like it spicy, or even none at all)
  • 4 wraps (like corn tortillas)
  • salt and pepper to taste


  • 1 tbsp basil, fresh (or coriander, chopped)



  • Preheat the oven to 200°C/390°F and line a baking tray with baking/parchment paper.
  • Drain the chickpeas and add to a mixing bowl. Add the olive oil and paprika and stir well.
  • Put into baking tray and roast for 15-20 minutes in the oven. Give the chickpeas a quick toss halfway through.
  • In the meantime slice the red onion finely and wash and dice the tomatoes. Put in a small bowl with the vinegar and let soak.
  • Scoop the avocado flesh out and put a serving bowl. Mash with a fork and season with lemon juice, salt and pepper.
  • Mix the cream fraiche with the spicy sauce, also in a serving bowl.
  • Heat up the tortillas in a pan or microwave, according to packet instructions.
  • By now the chickpeas should be ready, too. Re-add to mixing bowl.
  • Lay everything out, and create your wraps! We like to spread avocado on one half and cream fraiche on the other. Line the other ingredients up down the middle, and fold. Bottom first, then sides. Done!
  • Enjoy your chickpea wraps!


Sticky Sesame Tofu With Broccoli


Ready in: 30 mins

Serving size: 4 people

Recipe by: MyQuietKitchen



  • 16 ounces super firm tofu (patted dry) or extra firm tofu (pressed), cut into 12 equal-sized rectangles
  • 1 head of broccoli, cut into small florets (about 4 cups)
  • ¼ cup soy sauce (sub tamari for gluten-free)
  • ¼ cup maple syrup
  • 3 Tbsp rice vinegar
  • 2 cloves garlic, zested or finely minced
  • 1 tsp zested or finely minced ginger root
  • 1 tsp toasted sesame oil (for oil-free, omit or sub 1 Tbsp tahini)
  • red pepper flakes, optional
  • 1 Tbsp corn starch or arrowroot dissolved in ⅓ cup water
  • 3 Tbsp sesame seeds
  • green onion, sliced



  • Combine the soy sauce, vinegar, maple syrup, garlic, ginger, sesame oil (or tahini), and pepper flakes in a small bowl. In a separate bowl or mug, dissolve the starch in water. Don’t add the starch slurry to the sauce just yet. Set aside.
  • Preheat a large, oven-safe skillet over medium heat. Position the top oven rack about 6 inches from heat source and set broiler to 500 degrees.
  • Wet your fingers and flick a bit of water into the pan. If the water beads and dances across the surface, the pan is ready and the tofu won’t stick. Place each piece of tofu in the pan, careful not to move them once placed. They may pop and sputter but don’t worry! There’s no oil to burn you. Turn off the eye and transfer the pan to the oven. Broil until the tops are golden brown, 7 to 10 minutes. 
  • Carefully remove pan from oven and flip the tofu. Return pan to oven and broil for another 6 to 8 minutes.
  • Transfer the pan to the stove top and turn the eye on medium-low. REMEMBER, the handle is HOT. For safety, slide an oven mitt onto the handle as a reminder. 
  • Mix the starch slurry into the sauce and pour over the tofu. Add the broccoli to the pan. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally to coat the tofu and broccoli with sauce. Once the sauce has thickened and the broccoli can be pierced with a fork, garnish with green onion and sesame seeds and serve.


Creamy Broccoli Pasta


Ready in: 25 minutes

Serving size: 2 people

Recipe by: Hurry The Food Up



  • 7 oz pasta (e.g. tagliatelle or linguine)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cups broccoli (frozen is fine too)
  • 1 onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • ½ cup vegetable broth
  • 4 oz cream cheese
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tsp chili flakes
  • Optional but awesome toppings:
  • ¼ cup black olives (pitted)
  • ¼ cup feta cheese (crumbled)
  • 1 tbsp sunflower seeds (pan fried)



  • Bring water to a boil and cook the pasta according to the package instructions.
  • If you’re using frozen broccoli, throw it in a pan right away with 3 tbsp of olive oil and cover with a lid – the broccoli thaws more quickly.
  • If using fresh, wash and cut the fresh broccoli into small florets. Next, peel and dice the onion; same with the cloves of garlic.
  • Heat up the olive oil in a pan, then add the broccoli, onion and garlic. On medium heat let everything simmer for 5 minutes.
  • Now it’s time to add the cream cheese.
  • Now slowly pour in the vegetable broth. NOTE: If you think the mixture is getting watery, stop pouring!
  • Once ready, drain the pasta in a sieve. Now add them to the broccoli cream mix. Cook on medium heat for another 5 minutes
  • Add salt, pepper and a few chili flakes to taste. To give it another kick, give a few splashes of lemon juice and a tsp of honey to the mix.
  • Serve!