This semester at F&M, I decided to become a pescatarian, a decision which I came to after I watched the documentary Before the Flood. I realized just how much American meat production impacts climate change. Approximately 1,850 gallons of water are needed to produce a single pound of beef, while only only approximately 39 gallons of water are needed to produce a pound of vegetables. The switch to stop eating meat was not very easy on campus, because there is usually only a chicken option present at each dining location, which is why  F&M needs to include more protein options in it's dining plan. 

Many people are unaware of both the environmental and physical health benefits that can come from cutting meat out of their diet. This is totally understandable--meat is definitely not a forgotten component of the American diet and lifestyle. In fact, Americans are the second highest meat eating country in the world. The average American individual eats 270.7 pounds of meat a year, in comparison to the average 102.5 pounds of meat consumed per person in the world. 

Even if you aren't ready to cut meat out of your diet, you can still limit your meat intake to help your own health, and the environment! That being said, for the vegans, vegetarians, pescatarians, and people that just don't always want to eat meat, there are definitely some improvements that could be made on campus to add more protein substitutes to make sure we can all keep our health in check.

To see the full list of benefits from cutting out meat, check out this awesome Meatless Monday website.

tomato, rice, vegetable, pepper
Megan Prendergast

So what should our campus offer for protein substitutes? Usually, tofu is offered at the salad bars or at the dining hall, but there are plenty of other protein sources that could be added to diversify on campus food options. This will not only help vegans and vegetarian eaters, but other students that are looking to spice up the usual food options. Adding more plant-based proteins will also improve the food quality and add more healthy options. 

1. Peas

pea, vegetable, legume, pasture, snap pea, snow pea
Spoon University

Peas contain 3 grams of protein per half cup. Peas are sometimes offered at stir fry, but it is inconsistent. Peas could be offered at the salad bar daily, cooked or uncooked. 

2. Avocados

vegetable, guacamole, avocado
Rebecca Holstein

Whole or cut avocados should be offered at the dining hall, College Center, and Blueline. Avocados can be eaten on avocado toast, added to a rice bowl, salad, or eggs!

3. Eggs, 24/7

omelet, fried egg, egg yolk, egg
Msu Spoon

At F&M, about 30% of our student body participates in a varsity sport. Eggs are great for not only athletes that need protein, but could diversify food options on campus for all. Eggs for dinner wouldn't be so bad!

4. Fish

fish, seafood, salmon
Jocelyn Hsu

Every day, there should be a fish option for people that do not want a meat option. This could be added to stir fry, or to another section of the dining hall. Also, Taco Tuesday could have fish tacos to mix up the usual beef and chicken options. 

5. Lentils

lentil, pea, vegetable, legume
Christin Urso

Lentils are among the world's best sources of plant-based protein. Lentils offer a rich variety of nutrients that provide health benefits. 

So even if you aren't convinced that cutting out meat is right for you, you can probably agree there needs to be more variety for on campus food options. Adding more protein options, and protein based foods, that can be mixed in with a variety of meals will help diversify food options and encourage students to spend less money at the grocery stores.