Nearly every week I have conversations with many of you about the actions we need to take to help spread the word about beef cattle production to our consumers. Over the years, I have met countless individuals that have taken these conversations to heart, dedicating their time and talents to sharing our stories. One of my friends and a 2007 National Beef Ambassador, Chris Molinaro, is doing just that, and she has established a lasting tradition on behalf of the beef industry at Pennsylvania State University (PSU).
In response to an event hosted by students at PSU called Meat-Out Day, where the cafeteria would hold vegetarian Fridays on campus, Molinaro worked with her state beef council and several other agriculture organizations to start an annual Meat-In Day on campus. March 18, 2009 marked the third annual Meat-In Day on the Penn State University main campus. Around 30-40 eager students from the College of Agricultural Sciences rallied together to distribute meat and dairy products as well as promotional materials.
Of the event, Molinaro said, "Several vegetarian and vegan Penn State students stood their ground in opposition to the Meat-In Day event this year. Several minutes following the beginning of the event, vegetarian students began handing out anti-meat materials just yards away from the Meat-In Day volunteers. No negative confrontations were made between the two groups; however, it was ironic to see students holding an anti-meat flyer in one hand and chowing down beef jerky in the other hand. The majority of the Penn State students received Meat-In Day positively. It was definitely encouraging to hear students shout out, "Yeah, for beef!" or, "I'll never stop eating meat." One boy informed us that he switched from the vegan diet just weeks ago claiming he got sick from cutting meat and dairy out of his diet. He was very eager to accept our meat and dairy hand-outs."
The 2009 Penn State Meat-In Day was a true success, according to Molinaro, with over 6,000 pieces of meat and dairy products distributed. These are true ambassadors for our industry, and I'm very proud to call these individuals my friends. I challenge all state beef councils to team up with a university to put together similar events on campus. With a little monetary support, these college students can share their passions and enthusiasm for food production with their peers. Kudos to the students at PSU! Thanks for setting a great model for others to follow!