Augustana University in Sioux Falls, S.D. had a Meatless Monday flier circulating its halls in April that caused a stir on social media and with the students themselves.
Augustana University in Sioux Falls, S.D. had a Meatless Monday flier circulating its halls in April that caused a stir on social media and with the students themselves.

By Wendy Sweeter

South Dakota’s Augustana University student groups are the ones that initiated the Meatless Monday flier that was circulating on social media the last couple of weeks, not the university itself.

Katie LeBrun, Augustana public relations and communications specialist, emphasizes the initiative was all student-led.

“This was actually a student-led initiative through the Augustana Student Association. It was connected to Earth Week. It was a one-time event and it was not sponsored by Augustana administration,” LeBrun says.

LeBrun says it was one day and that meat was still available in the downstairs grill.

Augie freshman Katie Shaw, a nursing major from a fifth-generation ranch near White Owl, S.D., agrees that meat was available and in the grill area, however, she had a different meal plan. The main cafeteria area served the vegetarian options.

“The upstairs part that’s unlimited. In the grill area, you can use flex money,” Shaw says.

If a student did not have flex money, they would have to use cash.

Shaw said when she and her friends went to eat lunch that day, there were a lot of upset people.

“I think they’re just mad that vegetarians get the option at every meal to eat vegetarian food. They felt like they were being forced to eat the vegetarian options,” Shaw says.

The sponsors listed on the flier included the Augustana Students Association, Augie Green, Augustana International Club, Recreational Services, Augustana Dining Services and Center for Campus Life. LeBrun said they could not confirm if dining services or campus life actually approved of the flier since those logos are available for student use.

“I can’t confirm that they actually approved this flier. These logos are available for student use. It is also possible that the students went through the proper channels. I cannot confirm that these groups approved the program or the flier,” LeBrun says.

Since students created the flier, Augie administration cannot say where the “facts” listed on the flier came from. Some of those facts included: Plant-based protein like beans and peas offer a higher amount of fiber, folate, iron, magnesium, protein and zinc than their meat-based counterparts; Meat production is a substantial producer of greenhouse gases as compared to plant produce; Producing meat uses more natural resources - water, fossil fuel, land - than growing vegetables.

Shaw found those facts to be frustrating.

“It’s just kind of frustrating for me to read that stuff because since I did grow up on a ranch, I know how things actually are and how they actually work,” Shaw says. “When you have people from other states – and Augie has a lot of international students that don’t totally understand agriculture – they see the facts, they just believe it.”

Since Augustana has a lot of speakers on campus throughout the year, Shaw hopes that someone from the South Dakota Beef Industry Council or the Stockgrowers association can speak to students about beef production and beef nutrition. 

While she cannot take everyone with her when she goes back to the ranch, Shaw did bring two of her Sioux Falls friends to her family’s branding this past weekend.

“When we got done one of my friends said she has a new appreciation for what ranchers are doing and it was eye-opening seeing all the work that goes into it. She doesn’t know how we do it every day. I thought that was kind of cool,” Shaw says.