With fruits, vegetables, salads and pastas spread across the table, a handful of Duke staff chatted while savoring a meat-free lunch.
As they chewed red peppers, olives and cheese of antipasto salad, lemon pesto pasta and a chipotle quinoa salad, co-workers from the Nicholas School of the Environment celebrated the second "Meatless Monday" potluck of the summer. The monthly event features a variety of vegetarian and vegan foods.
"I like to support the idea of being environmentally responsible and this is an easy way of doing that," said Cindy Peters , assistant dean for Academic and Enrollment Services at the Nicholas School. "It's also important for me to do what I can to support sustainability and specifically sustainability efforts at Duke."
The event was started by Leslie Pardue, program coordinator for professional studies in Academic and Enrollment Services. Pardue wanted to create an easy way for Duke students, faculty and staff to reduce their environmental impact and eat a healthier diet. The lunch is part of Triangle Meatless Mondays, a local movement that works with restaurants to offer special vegetarian meals every week.
The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that cutting out meat for one meal a week over a year can cut down an individual's carbon footprint by about 300 tons.
But that's not the only incentive for participating in the potluck. Pardue will raffle off a vegetarian cookbook during each of the coming Meatless Monday lunches. The next lunch will be held in September. Potluck participants are encouraged to bring their own reusable plate and utensils to further minimize any environmental impact of the meal.
"Food is a great thing to build a community around and vegetarian food gives us another level of meaning for these lunches," said Chris Paul, an associate in research with the Children's Environment Health Initiative. "I'm looking forward to building a stronger Duke community around these great foods."
For more information about Duke's Meatless Monday potluck or for help organizing a Meatless Monday event for your department, e-mail Leslie Pardue.