Meat-free for a week

Writer takes the ‘Veggie Challenge’ to learn about her impact on the environment

The challenge: go five days without meat.

As part of an ASUS Committee for the Environment (ACE) event, I joined about 60 students in eating
vegetarian food this past week.

ACE organized the event to increase awareness about our ecological footprint—the effect our
lifestyle has on the environment. At one point, I was eating meat lovers’ pizza with my friends and
picked the meat off and threw it away.

In hindsight, because the focus of this event was on the environment and not only on animal rights, I
should have just stopped eating the pizza. Energy was already consumed to process the meat.

Through the Veggie Challenge, ACE hopes to bring a greater awareness to students about how
eating meat affects the environment, said Natasha Aziz, ACE co-chair. Her co-chair Josh Thienpont
said it takes far less energy, land and water to grow corn than to raise a cow or a chicken.

“With a vegetable diet, more food can be grown for more people,” he said.

ACE provided participants information about the ecological impact of eating meat and provided links to a quiz where you can measure your ecological footprint, based on your food consumption, mode of transportation and energy use.

According to the quiz, my ecological footprint is 9.4 hectares, compared to the Canadian average
of 8.8.

During the five days, I wasn’t particularly grouchy or craving meat; I did have trouble making my meals exciting, though. I’m not big on trying new and unknown foods, so I stayed away from variations on tofu. I ate side dishes like rice, potatoes, vegetables and salad.

But I still felt hungry afterwards and ended up snacking on fruits and vegetables an hour after a meal.
The idea for the Veggie Challenge came from Queen’s alumna Marg Buckholtz, who is a member of the
Toronto Vegetarians’ Association. The association holds its own Veggie Challenge each year.

On Sunday, participants have a chance to win a $50 draw prize, courtesy of Buckholtz.

Emily Lancastle, Nurs ’09, said she’s taking the challenge seriously. “We are higher up on the food
chain so we are entitled to meat, but if we want to preserve the planet for future generations, we
need to do everything we can. If not eating meat does that, then that’s great,” she said.

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