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Cambridge University Cuts Emissions With Less Meat & More Plant-based Foods


Back in 2016, Cambridge University made the decision to remove beef and lamb from its campus menus and offer more plant-based dishes in an effort to reduce its food-related emissions.

Cambridge pointed to the fact that producing beef and lamb emits 250 times more greenhouse gases per gram of protein than legumes (lentils, chickpeas, beans) and that one meal with beef or lamb has the same footprint as eight months of chickpea-based meals. They also highlighted that plant-based foods require less water and land than animal-based foods.

The school has since reported that the decision, which was part of its Sustainable Food Policy, has been effective in reducing emissions per kilogram of food purchased by 33 per cent and land use per kilogram of food purchased by 28 per cent. The move cut the school’s overall emissions by 10.5 per cent, while simultaneously increasing sales and profit.

“It is hard to imagine any other interventions that could yield such dramatic benefits in so short a span of time,” said Andrew Balmford, professor of Conservation Science at the University of Cambridge.

In swapping out red meat options for more plant-based dishes, the school focused on making plant-based dishes appealing and accessible. Cambridge’s catering team took part in plant-based cooking classes, visited restaurants with plant-based menus for inspiration and managers received training on marketing for sustainability rather than for profit.

Meanwhile, dishes added to the menu were strategically placed in the cafeteria so as to highlight them specifically and encourage customers to choose them over meat-based options.

When it came to the labelling of dishes, staff focused on the ingredients rather than identifying dishes as specifically “veg” or “vegan”. They hoped this would create universal appeal and that customers would focus on the deliciousness of the dish.

Some of the most popular plant-based dishes include Swedish style vegballs with mash and creamy mustard sauce, smoky Moroccan chickpea stew with saffron infused couscous and a sweet potato burger.

The success of this decision by Cambridge University serves as an inspiring example for other post-secondary schools and institutions that offer food service. It also comes at a crucial time, as a growing body of research concludes that a significant reduction in global meat consumption is essential for addressing climate change, the global biodiversity crisis and the high demand for meat that drives the cruel factory farming system.

Interested in introducing or expanding plant-based menu options at your school, workplace, business or in your community? Get in touch to learn about our Plant-Based Plates program! 

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Students lead the effort to create a better world

Students are saving the world. Just skim the news lately and you’ll come across headlines about 16-year-old Swedish activist Greta Thunberg’s compelling call to action at the recent UN Climate Change talks, or about the growing #FridaysForFuture youth movement and the recent Youth Climate Strike. Globally, youth are mobilizing a mass movement focused on creating a better world.

Locally, we at the Vancouver Humane Society are also inspired by the youth who have led the effort to bring more humane, healthy and sustainable plant-based foods to their school menus and who have worked to educate and empower their peers, and are proud to support amazing young people in Metro Vancouver.

Shiqi Xu and Naiara Peruchena are two of those local students who have been inspiring change in their community. Our Program Coordinator, Emily Pickett, first met Shiqi and Naiara in 2016 and supported them in co-founding a Meatless Monday Club at their school, Sutherland Secondary, helping to promote plant-based menu changes in order to help animals. Since 2016, their club has led a highly successful Meatless Monday campaign, with the growing demand for plant-based menu items leading to their school’s food service provider to commit to transitioning 20 percent of the daily menu to plant-based foods!

Shiqi and Naiara also presented their Meatless Monday work to the North Vancouver School Board, asking for a letter of support, which the board enthusiastically provided. They were also successful in getting a student choice policy for animal dissection implemented in the school district, with support from the Animals in Science Policy Institute. The student choice policy allows students to opt out of animal dissection and participate in alternative learning methods.

Sutherland Secondary students Naiara Peruchena (on left) and Shiqi Xu (on right)

All that said, it came as no surprise to us that Shiqi was recently awarded the prestigious Loran scholarship of $100,000 to go toward her undergraduate studies. She intends to study bioengineering and wants to help develop biotechnology that will save lives while replacing animals used in testing.

“I am proud of the work Naiara and I have done in promoting healthy, sustainable eating in our school and school district, with VHS’ support,” says Shiqi. “Not only has this experience allowed me to build my leadership skills, but it also played a central role in igniting my passion for sustainability and animal rights. In my bioengineering endeavours in the future, my goal is to help improve the lives of both people and animals.”

We have no doubt that Shiqi and Naiara will go on to do great things for animals, people and the planet after they graduate this year, and that they will leave an inspiring legacy for the next generation of students set to take over the Meatless Monday Club, who we too look forward to working with!

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Handsworth student wins award for Meatless Monday efforts

Handsworth Secondary student, Meghan Little, was recently presented with a Student Recognition Award for her efforts to bring Meatless Monday to her school. Meghan’s peers and teachers nominated her for the award and even put together a video highlighting her work. The Vancouver Humane Society (VHS) was honoured to be in attendance at the awards ceremony to celebrate Meghan’s success.

VHS Program Coordinator, Emily Pickett, first met Meghan at Handsworth’s Be Aware Fair, where VHS was tabling and talking to students about our Meatless Monday program. Meghan was keen to bring the initiative to Handsworth and so she worked with VHS, the school’s Environmental Club (of which she was a member) and the food service provider to get more veg options on the menu.

Handsworth’s Meatless Monday initiative was successfully launched on November 20, 2017 and Meghan and fellow Environmental Club members have been raising awareness of the benefits of going meatless and encouraging students and staff to opt for the Meatless Monday special ever since!

Meghan’s leadership and dedication to protecting animal welfare, the environment and public health were instrumental in improving student access to plant-based foods at multiple North Vancouver secondary schools. Meghan’s efforts inspired students at other schools to get involved and ultimately helped contribute to the recent commitment by local food service provider, Amaga Food, to expand on Meatless Monday by transitioning 20 per cent of the regular menu to plant-based at five North Vancouver secondary schools (Handsworth, Sutherland, Argyle, Windsor and Seycove secondary), starting this fall. This means students and staff will have access to humane, healthy and sustainable plant-based options every day!

“It’s exciting to see all the positive changes at Handsworth,” said Meghan. “The 20 per cent increase in plant-based options shows how open our community is to change and progress. I’m hoping our efforts for Meatless Monday will inspire other students to follow their passions and to make positive changes as well.”

This achievement would not have been possible without the help of Meghan, Handsworth’s Environmental Club and the incredibly dedicated students involved at the other participating North Vancouver secondary schools. As a grade 12 graduate, Meghan leaves behind a meaningful and inspirational legacy at Handsworth and is excited to attend the University of British Columbia in the fall, where we look forward to continuing to support her efforts to spread the “go veg” message!

Learn more about Meatless Monday and donate today to help us improve access to plant-based options at more schools and institutions.

You can also check out a recent feature on Meghan’s efforts in the North Shore News!

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Meatless Monday is on the menu at Kwantlen Polytechnic

Kwantlen Polytechnic University’s food service provider, Sodexo, and the school’s “Let’s Be Compassionate” club recently joined forces to raise awareness of the University’s involvement in the increasingly popular Meatless Monday movement.

The two groups organized a Meatless Monday outreach event at the Surrey campus, where they distributed information about the benefits of a plant-based diet and samples of the cafeteria’s Meatless Monday options. Students who stopped by the table were able to sample wraps, chili, 3-bean soup and hummus with pita chips and learn about how a plant-based diet helps tackle factory farming and climate change, while also protecting against preventable health conditions like heart disease, stroke, cancer, and diabetes.

“Being able to educate and share information about veganism, plant-based eating and animal welfare with the students at Kwantlen has been a really positive experience so far,” said club member, Sasha. “One of the greatest parts of promoting a plant-based diet is the satisfied and surprised look on people’s faces when they try the samples. We’re helping show them that meals without meat can taste even better and that eliminating meat from their diet one day a week can easily turn into seven days a week!”

A recent survey by Dalhousie University revealed similar enthusiasm for meat reduction, with nearly 40% of British Columbians 35 and under indicating they follow a vegetarian or vegan diet. The national survey also suggested that British Columbia is leading the way when it comes to eating meatless.

“Skipping meat one day a week is good for you and better for the planet,” said Sodexo Marketing Coordinator, Colleen Dang-Wong. “Together with the Let’s Be Compassionate Club, we can educate our campus community on the benefits of plant-based eating and what we offer on campus to support this global initiative.”

Kwantlen joins 16 other Metro Vancouver secondary and post-secondary schools that are participating in Meatless Monday. In addition to the items sampled during the outreach event, other meatless menu options include a veggie burger (which can be made vegan), as well as grab and go vegan salad options.

Follow Kwantlen’s lead by pledging to go meatless on Mondays and we’ll send you a weekly recipe to help you along! Check out to learn more and to support our effort to bring the initiative to more classrooms, cafeterias and communities. Interested in bringing Meatless Monday to your school, workplace or community? Get in touch with Program Coordinator, Emily Pickett, to learn more.

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Today is Meatless Monday in Metro Vancouver

Sutherland Secondary’s Meatless Monday Club tabling for Meatless Monday and giving away free salads.

Schools lead the way, as more schools offer plant-based meals

In an effort to raise awareness of the links between diet and the environment, health and animal welfare, the Cities of Vancouver, New Westminster, North Vancouver and Port Moody have proclaimed today Meatless Monday. Students in Metro Vancouver are leading the way in introducing the concept, with a number of secondary and post-secondary schools offering plant-based meals in their food facilities on Mondays.

To mark the occasion Vancouver Councillor Adriane Carr will visit David Thompson Secondary at 1755 E 55th Avenue at 11:30 a.m. to congratulate students and staff on the success of their Meatless Monday initiative. Here are a few photos from today’s media and outreach event at David Thompson Secondary!

Eleven Metro Vancouver schools will be participating by offering at least one meatless dish on their menu in addition to their regular menu items. Two of these schools, Argyle Secondary and Lord Byng Secondary, are launching their initiatives today.

The Carnegie Community Centre, which serves the Downtown Eastside, will be offering a special Meatless Monday menu today. The centre aims to offer healthy, culturally diverse and delicious food on a daily basis for the community.

Meatless Monday is a global initiative, active in more than 30 countries and growing in popularity in Metro Vancouver. The campaign is aimed at increasing awareness about the impact of food choices and improving access to humane, healthy and sustainable food options. Reducing our overconsumption of animal products and increasing our consumption of plant-based foods helps fight climate change, protects individual/public health and reduces the demand for cheap meat that drives factory farming.

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Meatless Monday is on the move

Meatless Monday at Langara College.

Mark May 15th in your calendars! In an effort to raise awareness of the links between diet, the environment, health and animal welfare, Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson has proclaimed Monday May 15th, 2017 to be Meatless Monday.

The globally popular movement, aimed at increasing awareness about the impact of our food choices and improving access to humane, healthy and sustainable food options, has been gaining popularity in Metro Vancouver. To date, ten schools have embraced the “once a week, cut the meat” message, with the most recent being Sutherland Secondary in North Vancouver. Sutherland launched their cafeteria campaign with the leadership of their new Meatless Monday club, comprising students who are passionate about the impact eating meatless has on pressing issues like factory farming, climate change and individual and public health.

Sutherland’s Meatless Monday club got its start after students learned that Capilano University was implementing the meat reduction initiative with support from VHS. Program Coordinator, Emily Pickett, was thrilled to help Sutherland’s Meatless Monday club bring the campaign to their cafeteria. Just a couple of months in and the club has worked closely with food service provider, Amaga Foods, to add and promote delicious menu items like Mexican bean burritos, Mediterranean chickpea salad, tofu fried rice and lentil vegetable curry with rice.

Sutherland Secondary launches Meatless Monday

“Our club does regular outreach in our school’s cafeteria to help raise awareness of Meatless Monday, the benefits of participating and what meatless options are on the menu, “ says club organizers Naiara Peruchena and Shiqi Xu. “We are thrilled to see sales of the meatless Monday special steadily increase and we think this initiative is important for helping students become more aware of what’s on their plate and the impact that has beyond their plate.”

But it’s not just schools who are getting on board, Cabrito, a Spanish tapas restaurant on Vancouver’s Commercial Drive, also recently embraced Meatless Monday. Jamie Stolar, Cabrito’s general manager, says the idea emerged from a mix of reasons. “We love the idea of being able to encourage people that aren’t vegan or vegetarian that even choosing one day a week to eat meet free can make a difference.”

Cabrito’s Meatless Monday offer includes a sampler of the three items for $19, allowing diners to try a few different items for a great value and still leave full. Currently, both vegetarian and vegan options are available, but Stolar say the focus will be “100 per cent vegan going forward.”

Cabrito’s Roasted vegetable sliders

Stolar thinks Meatless Monday has lots of potential, given Vancouver’s veg-friendly nature. “It would be really cool to see more restaurants join the movement as it’s such a great way to educate people and get them to start thinking about what they are consuming. It leaves them with ideas that they can incorporate into their daily lives.”

The Mayor’s May 15th Meatless Monday proclamation is not only a great show of support for the local schools, businesses and individuals who have already embraced Meatless Monday, but it may be just the type of encouragement needed to take Meatless Monday to the next level!

VHS has invited other Lower Mainland municipalities to follow Vancouver’s lead and pass similar proclamations in solidarity and is encouraging citizens, schools, businesses and the community as a whole to embrace plant-based eating on Monday, May 15th (and every Monday moving forward)! Get in touch with Program Coordinator, Emily Pickett, to learn more and get involved.

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Meatless Monday on the menu at Simon Fraser University

Stop by the residence dining hall at Simon Fraser University’s (SFU) Burnaby campus on Mondays and you’ll notice a variety of veg options being promoted. Food service provider, Chartwells, has been offering up delicious dishes including veg burgers, pizza, pasta, curries, salads and soups as part of their Meatless Monday initiative.

“Meatless Mondays is a simple concept that everyone can support. There are so many great veg options available these days that choosing to go meat-free, even one day a week, has never been easier! There are also a number of benefits, not just for the environment or animal welfare, but for a person’s health and general well-being too,” said Shehani Perera, Manager & Executive Chef at the residence dining hall.

Perera says feedback surrounding the initiative has been positive, with a growing number of students open to the concept of eating in a more humane, healthy and sustainable way. Student groups are also promoting the many benefits of cutting back on meat. Embark, a non-profit student society focused on sustainability, is supporting the Dining Services’ initiative via their “Monday Veggie Challenge”.

“Embark recognizes the destructive impact the meat industry has both on the planet and on human health,” explained Ali White, Programs Manager of Embark. “We’re asking the SFU community to choose plant-based options just one day a week! Participants can post their photos of vegetarian meals using the hashtag #SFUVeggieChallenge to enter to win a prize every month.”

It’s not just the sustainability crowd getting on board either; SFU’s Health Peers Program is also helping spread the word about the benefits of going meatless on Mondays.

“As students invested in health education efforts at SFU, the Health Peers recognize the value in supporting the Meatless Monday initiative,” said Health Peers member Savannah Swann. “While we promote Meatless Monday when possible through our presence at food-related events and outreach every year, our greatest contribution to this cause is through our bi-weekly Community Cooking Workshops. These workshops teach students about nutrition and help them to develop basic food preparation skills. We intentionally showcase easy vegetarian/vegan meals and always provide vegetarian/vegan options. We are proud to advocate for a cause that supports student health (financially and physically) and contributes to environmental sustainability.”

SFU is joined by seven other Metro Vancouver schools which are being supported by VHS in offering meatless menu options on Mondays.

“We’re thrilled to see schools and students embracing the Meatless Monday concept! Every time we eat meatless, we’re reducing the demand for cheap meat, which sentences over 700 million animals every year to lives of misery and deprivation on factory farms. It’s empowering that we can have a huge impact simply by what we choose to put on our plate,” said VHS Program Coordinator, Emily Pickett.  

Follow SFU’s lead by taking our Meatless Monday pledge today! We’ll send you a weekly recipe to help you keep your commitment. You can also support our effort to bring Meatless Monday to more classrooms, cafeterias and communities by making a donation today. Interested in bringing Meatless Monday to your school, workplace, business or community? Get in touch with Program Coordinator, Emily Pickett, to learn more!

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Chartwells & Langara College Lead Lower Mainland Meatless Monday Effort



It’s been over a year and a half since Vancouver’s Langara College became the first campus in Western Canada to join the globally popular Meatless Monday movement. The Vancouver Humane Society (VHS) first introduced the initiative in March 2015 to Langara’s Environmental Club and food service provider, Chartwells. Both groups eagerly supported bringing it to the school’s cafeteria after learning about the impact of our society’s overconsumption of meat on animal welfare, the environment and public health.

“We felt this was a great opportunity to take a small, but powerful, step by raising awareness of the impact of our food choices and offering options to reduce that impact,” said Rizwan Bandali of Chartwells/Compass Group.

And seize that opportunity is exactly what Chartwells and Langara College did, with the introduction of delicious meatless menu items! The cafeteria kicks off each week with a wide variety of options, from roasted veggie paninis and mouth-watering curries to meatless meatballs, veg lasagna and creative tofu dishes.

langara-blog-post7Meatless Monday specials have been paired with eye-catching, educational posters aimed at raising awareness and boosting participation in the initiative. Statistics outlining water use and greenhouse gas emissions from meat production are another way the campaign extends education into the cafeteria and inspires individual action.

Chartwells reports sales have been steadily increasing and feedback regarding the meatless items has been very positive. So much so that the cafeteria recently began offering an additional daily hot vegetarian bar, adding even more meatless options to the menu.

Langara’s campaign has effectively blazed a trail for other Lower Mainland schools interested in taking similar steps to help protect animals, our health, and the planet. To date, the British Columbia Institute of Technology, Eric Hamber Secondary and Winston Churchill Secondary have implemented similar initiatives and others are set to join as well.langara-blog-post1

“We’re thrilled to see Meatless Monday catching on here in the Lower Mainland and we commend Chartwells Langara for helping make that possible. Factory farming, climate change and public health are major issues facing us today. They can seem overwhelming from an individual perspective, but when we realize that we can have a significant impact simply by what we choose to put on our plate, we can take steps to support a kinder, cleaner and healthier world,” said VHS Program Coordinator, Emily Pickett.

Follow Chartwells Langara’s lead by taking our online Meatless Monday pledge. We’ll share a weekly recipe to help you keep your commitment! You can also support our effort to bring Meatless Monday to more classrooms, cafeterias and communities by making a donation today. Interested in bringing Meatless Monday to your school, workplace, business or community? Get in touch with Program Coordinator, Emily Pickett, to learn more!