The Meatless Meals Activity is a simple and effective way to encourage students at your school to cut back on meat consumption one meal at a time. By eating less meat, students can care for their personal health, minimize their carbon footprint, and reduce air and water pollution. From sharing fun veggie recipes to learning about healthier, plant-based options, improving the environment’s, and your school’s health has never been so easy.
ESTABLISH YOUR SCHOOL’S GRADES OF GREEN TEAM. Ensure that your school has established a Grades of Green Team to help implement this Grades of Green’s Activity and any other Grades of Green Activities your school takes on in the future.
GET YOUR SCHOOL ON BOARD. Set up a meeting with your school’s Grades of Green Team leaders and your principal and campus leaders to discuss implementing Grades of Green’s Air Earth Tips. Let her/him know why you think it’s important for your school to spread awareness about protecting air quality. Click here for an example email to send to your principal and an example agenda. If any questions come up during the meeting, please contact Grades of Green at (310) 607-0175 and we can help answer them. You can also call or email us here in advance with any additional questions, to get additional tips or to schedule a practice meeting to help prepare.
SET GOALS AND START TRACKING. What do you want to accomplish by implementing Grades of Green’s Meatless Meal Activity? Whether it’s setting a goal of the number of students involved or the amount of carbon emissions conserved, set a goal and begin tracking your progress so you know when it’s time to CELEBRATE! Record your starting baseline metrics before beginning so you know when you’ve accomplished your goal.
DEVELOP YOUR CASE Why should people eat less meat, and how does a meatless meal help the environment? Compile a list of tips to go meatless to share with students and parents. See Grades of Green’s "Getting Started Tips" HERE.
GET STUDENTS INVOLVED Now that you know about the benefits of eating a meatless meal, decide on how you would like to invite others to participate. You can educate people with this interactive water-usage chart through this link. You can host a meatless meal day at school, where students are encouraged to pack vegetarian lunches and snacks on one day of the week. You can also turn it into a competition, such as the Veg Pledge! A “Veg Pledge” states a student’s promise to eat meatless once a week for a month. You can encourage your peers to join the Veg Pledge, and offer rewards for students who participate, such as a raffle ticket to win a prize. You can also track which students are eating meatless meals by encouraging participants to fill out the Meatless Meal Tracker and have the Grades of Green Team, teachers, or parents initial after each meatless meal. The students, classroom, or grade level with the most meatless meals or meatless eaters can win a prize at the end of the month, such as extra recess time. Additionally, you can come up with your own fun prize!
IMPLEMENT MEATLESS MINUTE PRESENTATIONSWork with the Grades of Green Team to present a quick, fun presentation about meatless meals either over the school loudspeaker, television station, or in-person classroom presentations. Presentations can happen weekly, monthly, or as often as you’d like. Topics to share may include: describing a favorite meatless recipe, recounting a meatless dining out experience, or showing the class a meatless lunch in person. Some sample meat production statistics are included HERE to help you get started, but also feel free to explore other topics to share with the class such as: the environmental impacts of eating meat, how meat is processed, meat vs. fresh produce cost differences, etc.
CREATE A RECIPE BOOK (OPTIONAL) Collect your favorite meatless breakfast, lunch, snack, dinner, and/or dessert recipes and create a recipe book for your school. Share an electronic copy of all the meatless recipes with your classmates or school community through the school’s website, Facebook page, parent newsletter, etc. Encourage students to contribute to the recipe book by sharing their own favorite meatless recipes from home. Once the recipe book is created, you could even print copies of it and sell it as a school fundraiser!
ASSIGN A VEGGIE OF THE WEEK (OPTIONAL) Assign a Veggie of the Week, and encourage students at your school to incorporate that veggie in their meals for the week, especially on Meatless Meal focused days. For younger students, play a guessing game with fellow students and allow them to guess the Veggie of the Week. Give clues pertaining to the veggie’s color, texture, and uses. Older students may want to study a veggie every week to learn about their special adaptations and the science behind their nutrition. Then challenge students to use the veggie in their meals for the week. At the end of week, allow several students to share what meal they ate for Veggie of the Week and how they liked it.
MEASURE THE RESULTS Remember that goal you set earlier? How’d it go? How many students did you reach or how much carbon emissions were conserved? Measure the results of taking on Grades of Green’s Meatless Meals Activity.
CELEBRATE AND SHARE YOUR RESULTS Congratulations! You completed Grades of Green’s Meatless Meals Activity for your school and we couldn’t be prouder. You helped inspire and empower students to care for the environment, and the earth is just that much better off as a result! Email us the results you achieved, as well as any photos or videos of your completed Grades of Green Activity. Tag @gradesofgreen on social media so we can help share your story! Whether it’s “before/after” photos or videos showing how you took on the Activity or a shot of your Grades of Green Team in action, email your Advisor and tag us on social media so we can help shout it from the mountains on our website, e-newsletter, and social media. And don’t forget to also let your school community and city government know about your great and green accomplishments.
MAKE IT SUSTAINABLE What can you do to make this Activity sustainable at your school next year and in the years to come? We suggest making Grades of Green positions permanent to continue this Activity for years to come. Before you head out for the next school year, choose a student or volunteer who will oversee the Meatless Meal activity next year to make sure the legacy continues.
Benefit to Students
By going meatless once a week, students are helping reduce their carbon footprint, as well as minimizing air and water pollution. More importantly, they are helping reduce their risk of chronic, preventable diseases.
Benefits to the Environment
On average, producing a single pound of vegetables consumes about 47 times less water than is needed to produce a single pound of beef. In addition, vegetable heavy diet can reduce Greenhouse Gases that contribute to air pollution. Meat production releases many greenhouse gasses, including carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide, are significantly higher than those released from producing vegetables. Beef production releases a total of 30 kg of greenhouse gas (GHG) per kg of food, while fresh produce, such as carrots, only release 0.42 kg GHG per kg of food. As a result, if every American opted to eat less meat or even a meatless diet once a week and replaced it with a plant-based diet instead, the carbon dioxide savings would be the same as taking more than half a million cars off U.S. roads!
Eating less meat can cut weekly food expenses. Due to the extra expenses like feeding and transportation, producing meat from livestock tends to be more expensive than producing fresh vegetables, beans, and grains. As a result, going meatless once a week could help cut your weekly food bill almost in half!