Pratt Joins The 'Meatless Monday' Movement

Vegetarian potluck promotes healthy eating and sustainable living

Students and staff from the Pratt School of Engineering recently gathered for a first Pratt-wide "Meatless Monday" vegetarian potluck. Photo by Bryan Roth.

Pratt School of Engineering students and staff are putting a culinary spin on sustainability.

This week, Duke community members from Pratt held their inaugural "Meatless Monday" potluck featuring vegetarian and vegan foods.

Dishes ranging from spinach and feta quiche to sweet potato biscuits with a cinnamon butter spread were shared Monday during the lunch at the Fitzpatrick Center for Interdisciplinary Engineering, Medicine and Applied Sciences.

"I love an event like this because even people who aren't vegetarian can make a change in their lives for one day," said Samantha Morton, graduate program coordinator in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. "It's nice that people can come together for this because it's not just about bringing people together who like to cook and eat, it also creates a sense of community."

Pratt's "Meatless Monday" is the second of its kind at Duke, following in the steps of a meatless potluck started at the Nicholas School of the Environment last summer. The event is a way to lower a person's carbon footprint by cutting out meat.

The idea for the Pratt potluck came after Morton and Michael Albright, a grant and contract specialist with Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, held three small-scale meatless events with members of their own unit.

"We figured why not just invite the whole school," said Albright, who brought a quinoa salad to this week's potluck. "It's about food and fellowship. What a wonderful way to introduce folks to some culinary delights."

Because producing food from livestock is responsible for a large carbon footprint - about 18 percent worldwide - cutting out just one meal a week can add up to making a difference. If all Americans ate no meat one day a week, it would be the equivalent to taking 19.2 million cars off the road in the U.S. for a year.

Students and employees who joined the first Pratt Meatless Monday event said that's an important part of what they're trying to accomplish.

"We enjoy the culture of getting together across departments and pay grades, and we have a chance to reduce the carbon footprint in our little corner of the world," said Meg Barker, a staff assistant in Pratt's Office of the Dean. "We're also committed to using reusable plates, cups and utensils, so we're at the very least cutting down on trash that might otherwise hit the landfill."

All Pratt community members are welcome to join the Meatless Monday events, which Morton said may occur monthly. The next potluck isn't scheduled, but updates can be found at the "Pratt Sustainability" blog.