By Paulina Cradeur
If you are a returning student at UC Santa Cruz, it is clear that lots of things have changed this year — from the overcrowding at bus stops to the decrease in class times, even the difficulty in trying to find a parking space. Although these changes are an inevitable result of admitting too many new students, I would like to shed light on another recent decision that has me seriously doubting the university’s values. As some may remember, UCSC used to have what was called Healthy Monday, an accurate name given to one dining hall on Monday for removing meat from their menu. Items such as tofu and seitan were among the popular menu items, showing students that meat alternatives could be equally satisfying and delicious as their meat counterpart. The largest student environmental group on campus is aware of the environmental benefits of going meat free. As outlined in the current Blueprint for a Sustainable Campus 2016-2017, the largest environmental publication on campus, it is stated that the dining halls are aiming to reduce meat consumption by 10 percent to reduce energy and water consumption. They also acknowledge the recent removal of Healthy Mondays. It seems illogical that UC dining is aware of this goal yet has removed the most seemingly effective method for reaching that goal. In terms of the university reaching its food system goals, the administration’s conscious decision to remove Healthy Mondays is a large step backwards. The university justifies this decision by assuring students that vegetarian options are offered daily, but this justification fails to take into account the huge environmental reward of ditching meat, not to mention sparing the lives of millions of animals. For being a university so renowned for its sustainability efforts and historically known for listening to its students, I can’t help but be disappointed. It is not only beneficial for vegan and vegetarian students, but is healthier for our planet and reduces the amount of animal suffering. Furthermore, having a meatless day enables non-vegetarian students to make an impact with their meal choices and try healthier options. My criticism of this decision is not unreasonable — I am not expecting UCSC to go completely meatless, simply to bring back this small step towards a more sustainable and compassionate planet. I hope UCSC will learn to honor the importance of living up to its sustainable reputation.