Petition to Serve Less Meat Gains Traction with HUHDS

The petition started by one Harvard junior calling for Harvard University Hospitality & Dining Services to serve less meat is quickly getting support and getting noticed.

Since it was posted online last Tuesday, the petition has garnered 184 signatures from students across campus—and HUHDS is taking notice.

“We have long supported similar House-based student meatless initiatives by carefully monitoring student consumption and demand, and when the success of this effort warrants it, shifting the menu as appropriate, said HUHDS spokeswoman Crista Martin in an emailed statement. “At any meal, providing choice for diverse students’ tastes is an important component of our menus and program.”

Martin also noted that one-third of HUHDS daily entrée options are meatless and are offered along with other grill, salad, and deli bar options.

But Talia B. Lavin ’12, the originator of the campaign, is determined to effect a substantial change in HUHDS’ menu offerings by gathering at least 500 signatures for her petition, a number she says will “make HUHDS sit up and listen.”

Despite the number of people who have expressed support for a less meat-heavy HUHDS menu, many still remain unconvinced that this petition is the right approach to reducing meat consumption at Harvard.

“In principle there is no reason we shouldn’t support it,” Byran N. Dai ’11 said, noting the environmental and health benefits of consuming less meat. He added, however, that “eating less meat is a decision each of us should come to by ourselves.”

But Lavin, who has encountered some criticisms of the petition, argued that because HUHDS already selects what food is offered in dining halls, the dining environment created is already one of artificial choice.

“Choices made in the dining hall where everything is bought for you is not the same as a choice made in a free marketplace,” Lavin explained. “Individual preference matters less than the scale of the impact.”

Arguments over choice aside, Lavin noted that we already have multiple entrees of meat served in a single meal, so that reducing our meat consumption would have a significant effect on the environment. “Sometimes you’ll have chicken and beef at the same meal,” Lavin noted, “Who needs to eat chicken and beef in one meal?”

—Staff writer Derrick Asiedu can be reached at dasiedu@fas.harvard.edu.

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