In an effort to conserve water and protect our biodiversity, a new initiative was launched at Wits University on Monday.
The #GreenMondayMovement is a global health programme directed to provide universities with alternative, healthy meals that are meat, dairy and egg-free. The global initiative is headed by Humane Society International-Green Monday South Africa (HSI-SA).
According to the Humane Society International (which is one of the world’s largest animal protection organization), the Green Monday program encourages people to make a positive difference to their health and the environment by swapping meat, dairy and eggs for entirely plant-based meals at least one day a week.
Wits’ catering operations manager, Bontle Mogapi said that she hopes that Wits students will receive the initiative well, as they had requested the dining halls for variety in their menus, as well as the inclusion of meat and dairy-free meals for students who are vegetarians and vegans.
“The program is exciting, the meals are delicious, and it provides students with healthier and more sustainable meal options on a daily basis”, Mogapi explained.
The University of Witwatersrand is the second university in the country to participate in this programme, as the University of Cape Town was the first when this initiative was introduced to them in early 2017.
The programme aims to supply students with meals that would be available at Wits University’s main dining hall every Monday, as well as all of their residence dining halls, providing meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner. At the main dining hall on the East Campus of the university, is an area called the Green Hub, a centre within the dining hall that provides meat, dairy and egg-free meals.
Leozette Roode, the media and public relations manager for HSI-SA, added that the Green Monday initiative had trained the university’s chefs and culinary staff in the preparations of the meals that they would be providing to students at no cost.
“The ultimate aim of this programme is to decrease the consumption, and ultimately the cruelty acts done to domestic farm animals, that going into the production of meats”, Roode confirmed.
The Green Monday menu at Wits consists of dishes which include: baked Mexican enchiladas, red lentil and cauliflower curry roti’s, Morrocan tangine, Cape Malay bobotie, and aubergine and mushroom burger.
“On a Green Monday, we are encouraging South Africans to reduce their meat intake and eat more green meals, as it can really make a difference to our environment and our nation’s health. It also reduces the number of animals being raised on large-scale industrial farms where there are often significant welfare problems,” Roode revealed.
“There are so many alternatives across the country, and a lot of the plant-based ingredients that we incorporate in the meals are much more affordable to households and students than meat products. This campaign ultimately allows people to go back to the basics, by incorporating affordable whole food plants.”
Roode also noted that Wits University is the first of a number of Gauteng-based universities that HSI-SA have implemented their programme, in the hope that, by the end of 2018, they would have at least reached out to University of Johannesburg and University of Pretoria.