The Board of Regents heard from supporters of the livestock industry Thursday who are upset with the “Meatless Monday” project in the University of Iowa’s dining halls.

The comments were spurred in part by an article in the student newspaper which said the University of Iowa Student Government and Office of Sustainability came together to create Meatless Mondays based on a national program of the same name.

A university spokesperson says the dinning service has not stopped serving meat, some students are just doing more to make others aware of alternative options to eating meat.

U-I student Lauren Mosher told the Regents she is a fifth generation beef producer and was concerned about the information in the article that claimed meat is unhealthy. “I think it’s important that everyone is on the same page about how meat really helps us,” Mosher says. “Many beef producers know the big ten rule. beef provides ten essential nutrients for less than ten percent of your total daily fat intake in total calories.” Mosher says there are a lot of other benefits.

“Not only is read meat nature’s multivitamin, but we know that animal agriculture is great for the planet too. When animals are able to convert — energy dense micronutrient crops such as corn — into more micronutrient-dense food– such as meat, milk and eggs — the food production has enhanced capacity to meet the micronutrient requirements of the population,” according to Mosher. ” Cattle are the most efficient way to turn grass and other greens into human digested protein.” Mosher says there are 3.8 million head of livestock raised in the state and 97 percent of the livestock operations are family owned.

“In 2015 alone, Iowa’s cattle industry contributed in excess of $6.8 billion to Iowa’s economy,” she says “Here’s the other shocking news: there are 20-thousand750 jobs in Iowa that are directly related to the beef industry.” Calhoun County farmer Darcy Maulsby also spoke about the “Meatless Mondays.”

“I’m all for choice. If you want to do Meatless Monday, that’s okay with me. What I’m not okay is with misinformation,” Maulsby says. Maulsby is an Iowa State graduate and says the information on the health benefits of beef were not presented.

“Bottom line, just remember ESP. Ecofriendly, sustainable protein, that’s what this is all about and all I am asking is that we just share both sides of the story and that’s the responsible thing to do,” Maulsby says. Julianne Johnston, a graduate of the Iowa State University agriculture journalism program also spoke.

“The University of Iowa’s Meatless Monday initiative requested by the student government and the Office of Sustainability is based on a larger movement that claims livestock production is responsible for 15 percent of greenhouse gas emissions. But we know from EPA that it is much lower than that,” Johnston says. She says the campaign goes beyond simply offering students a choice.

“I too also strongly support students’ decision to choose how they decide to fuel their bodies. But what I take issue with is when one of our tax-supported institutions is perceived as supporting a campaign that is full of misinformation and is harmful to Iowa’s economy,” Johnston says. Johnston says the environmental claims made by the campaign are not the only issue.

“The global Meatless Monday campaign also claims that excessive meat consumption raises the risk of preventable illnesses. No one in the livestock industry is promoting excessive meat consumption,” Johnston says, “but we do point out the benefits of eating meat as part of a balanced diet.” Johnston called on the school to make a change.

“I believe the University of Iowa’s Housing and Dining director and staff need to end Meatless Monday — but continue to encourage its student leaders to find other ways to be conscious of the environment,” Johnston says. The discussion came during the public comment portion of the Board of Regents meeting and the board did not respond to the comments.

University of Iowa spokesperson, Jeaneane Beck sent Radio Iowa information she also sent to the speakers to “clarify some potential misinformation following an article in out student newspaper.” Beck says students involved in the University of Iowa Student Government (UISG) began promoting Meatless Mondays by handing out flyers highlighting meatless options available in the dining halls. She says the student-led initiative did not alter the menu items available through U-I Housing & Dining and says meat continues to be served on Monday and every day at the university. The menu items highlighted were simply part of the standard rotation available to students. Beck also says the U-I has a long tradition of supporting agriculture.

Audio: Full comments on Meatless Monday. 9:00.