Letter: More meat is not what we need

Re: “Vegans rare, but tofu abounds” (Feb. 22): The article suggests, from its title onwards, that Yale should consider cutting back on its vegetarian fare in various dining halls so meat-eaters can pick from, say, six carnivorous options every night instead of five. This move would be a step in precisely the wrong direction. No matter how much we like meat, we should all be able to acknowledge the fact that the meat industry does very bad things — to animals, to our arteries and to the planet our children will inherit from us.

According to the United Nations, the livestock industry contributes more to climate change than the entire global transportation industry combined. In the face of this reality, Dr. Rajendra Pachauri, the chair of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, has called on each of us to cut back on the meat. “Give up meat for one day [a week],” he suggested in the Observer. And then, if you can, try to “decrease it from there.”

If Yale’s vegetarian options aren’t tasty enough for meat-eaters right now, by all means let’s try to make them tastier. But — for the planet, for the animals, for Dr. Pachauri — let’s not cut them out for more meat.

Nick Pedersen

Feb. 22

The writer is a third-year student at the Law School.


  • Better Food

    Right on. More cafeteria options misses the point and offers no solution: Yale’s dining hall food is salty, uninspired, cafeteria fare, adding another unsustainable meaty dish won’t do anything to make the meal better. How about making fewer, but BETTER, entrees at each meal. And making healthy tasty vegan food too, not just tofu meat-substitutes. I am surprised that 1.3% of students can stay alive eating a vegan diet in Yale’s dining halls. What do you eat? Sugared peanut butter and lettuce? The options are grim.

  • Vegan and Vegetarian aren’t the same thing.

    I don’t think people object to vegetarian options nearly as much as vegan options – but vegan options, unless done extremely well (well beyond the capabilities of yale dining), aren’t nearly as good as their milk/egg containing counterparts (ie. vegan ravioli…)

  • Yale 08

    For every animal you don’t eat, I’m going to eat 3!!!

  • FailBoat

    Here comes eat-and-trade, where only the wealthy will be able to purchase the carbon credits for a steak.

  • Don’t forget…

    Given the amount of butter, cheese, milk, cream, and yogurt currently used in the sauces of dining hall food it is amazingly difficult to eat with a milk allergy or with lactose intolerance (and those with milk allergies cannot consume milk products in any amount).

    In fact, most nights the only options available to us are the single vegan option, the grill IF it’s open (often not), peanut butter and jelly, or limited salad–that’s not much in terms of protein sources. If you took away the vegan option, some of us would be living on peanut butter and jelly on whey-free bread (poorly stocked), plain chicken WHEN available (certain weeknights), and lettuce with veggies (please, someone start actually cooking the raw tofu at the salad bar).

    It’s difficult and time-intensive enough already to get even basic vegetables prepared by the dining hall without butter/margarine, (thank god they actually steam them sometimes now). Please don’t take away my vegan food. It’s the only way I can eat.

    And I’m not even vegan.

  • ’11

    Historically, meat *was* only accessible on a regular basis to the rich. Meat fetishism is a real component in why we’re so morbidly obese (not at yale, but in general). It’s not healthy to eat as much meat as Americans do.

  • bad article, good intention

    Instead of calling on global warming as why we shouldn’t have a whopping 6 options for meat dishes, how about someone simply acknowledge that 5 options is more than enough, and note that any nutritionist will tell you that one simply shouldn’t eat that much meat? It’s bad for your heart, kidneys, and digestive trac.

  • thanks

    Thanks, Nick. I’m lucky enough to live off campus and cook for myself, but have several vegan friends who have an incredibly difficult time eating in the dining halls. Frequently there isn’t even a single vegan option, despite the menu listing one. If we are going to claim to have a “sustainable” dining system, we absolutely need a drastic increase in vegan and vegetarian options as well as accountability about where our food is coming from. What do the dining cards’ proclamations of “sustainable dining at Yale” mean exactly? It seems the student body is calling for more information and the ability to make responsible eating choices while on the meal plan. You shouldn’t have to move off campus to eat ethically or healthily.

  • enough tofu already

    Although I’m not a vegetarian, I have talked to many of my vegetarian friends, and they resent that the only options for hot food open to them are vegan. I think that’s the issues that most students have. While we have a lot of vegetarians and people who are willing to forgo meat for a meal, there are so few vegans that making these tasteless dishes hardly seems worth it. So give us the cheese ravioli. Seriously.

  • In defense of tofu

    I’m not vegan, I’m vegetarian. But I don’t at all resent the fact that many of the vegetarian dishes are vegan. Should we ignore a part of the population just because there are only a few of them?

    It’s the same idea as gender-neutral housing. In practice, probably only a minority will use it. Does that mean we should ignore them because they’re a minority? Absolutely not.

    I’m all for having vegetarian options as well as vegan options. But then you meat eaters would only have 4 choices. And based on the responses to these articles, I don’t think many of you meat-eaters will let that go easily.