At the section M class this week, there was a discussion either amongst my group (or the class as a whole, I forget) of the odd basis for Meatless Mondays here at UCSC. On Meatless Mondays, one can enter the dining halls to see the lines laden with a variety of vegetarian or vegan foods, absent of any meat whatsoever. But looking closer, it is strongly apparent that though these foods are void of meat, they do not abandon the dish altogether for a purely non-animal meal. The Philly cheese steak sandwiches are replaced with Philly cheese portabello mushroom sandwiches, meat lasagna is replaced with eggplant lasagna, the deli serves cheap and shoddy soy-based meat slices, and the breakfast lines provide Soyrizo.
It is not difficult to tell that we still maintain the need for meat in our lives (with non-vegetarians like myself) by fooling ourselves into buying into a cheap imitation rather than seeking idealistically-different alternatives, where the vegetable is confidently presented as the centerpiece. There are little to no seasoned vegetables. What is presented that is somewhat along these lines are steamed vegetables that bear no flavor unless doused with a provided sauce or table-salt, failing to attract any potentially curious diners that are ready to accept Meatless Monday's offerings. What serving meat-substitute does is perpetuate the self-proclaimed "necessity" of meat by offering what is literally presented as a fake, and is therefore perceived as not as good as the real thing.
Just looking at the event through the most superficial of lenses will show that Meatless Monday deters literally hundreds of student from eating at their respective dining halls because it is seen as "bad food". While premature judgment does play into their actions, a bad first impression also contributes to their choice. Again, what is mostly provided by the dining halls in lieu of meat is fake meat. When put up against real meat in the eyes of non-vegetarians, it always loses. This is the reason why starkly different, vegetable-centralized foods should be what is served instead of surrogate meats.
Here is a picture of some Maltese puppies to wrap up this post. Look at how cute they are: