Schools in Baltimore are about to have more compassionate Mondays. Baltimore City schools are joining the Meatless Monday program, the first school system in the country to do so on a regular basis. Every Monday the school system will serve it’s 80,000 students a vegetarian meal (sadly the program isn’t vegan-food inclusive, though introducing vegetarian food is a start in the right direction).

It is important for all school systems to incorporate vegetarian and vegan options in their cafeterias on a regular basis, not just one day per week. While I think it’s great that Baltimore is trying out the Meatless Monday program, I think back to my own school days and remember how hard it was to be a vegetarian at my high school.

I stopped eating meat in the tenth grade. Not vegan yet – I still ate plenty of dairy. I went to a decent-sized high school, and the cafeteria was always super crowded – to the point where standing in line meant you only got 10 out of 30 minutes to actually eat. The meals were horrendous. Before I became a vegetarian, my typical school lunches would consist of a half-cooked chicken sandwich, a slice of greasy pizza, or a huge-ass chocolate chip cookie. By not eating meat, I was reduced to the cookie, or french fries, or canned vegetables left on a heating plate. We didn’t have a salad bar, no vegetarian option (such as a veggie burger) was ever offered, and the school officials couldn’t care less what we ate.

Needless to say, being a student at my high school meant not eating healthy during the day. I’ve gotten a little off-topic I guess, but I just feel it’s really important to feed our nation’s children a nutritious, healthy meal at least once a day. And adding more vegetarian and vegan options to the menu is a great place to start.