Veganism, and to a lesser extent vegetarianism, misses the point when it comes to food and environmental ethics; change my mind. Before you arm yourself with your pitchforks, think about this: I have spent pretty much every weekend at the farmer’s market for the past four months so obviously I know my vegetables. The industrialization and globalization of food production, no matter which food group, is rife with environmental and social harm. This is true especially for factory farming of animals, from deliberate fattening of Thanksgiving turkeys to overcrowding pigs and chickens. Even beyond the ethical implications, this cruel treatment has a very real impact on your food.
Another Earth Day has come and gone. The lengthy Instagram stories of natural wonders have timed out and with their expiration has also gone most of the Earth-friendly sentiment they delivered for a day. Some of my friends in the Ecology House, where I live, complain about people who give the Earth shoutouts over social media on Earth Day but only continue with the same wasteful lifestyles the next. While I have noticed this phenomenon with certain people, it’s not the biggest problem I see with Earth Day. The holiday celebrates our planet and advocates better treatment of it, but it also ignores our treatment of Earth’s cherished non-human constituents.
As I navigate my way through West Campus dining halls, Trillium, Terrace and yes, even Okenshields, I realize my appreciation for Cornell’s food extends beyond the meals the University provides and into the accessibility and openness this community has for vegetarians and vegans alike.
Indeed, Cornell Dining has taken the next step in expanding their plant-based fare. Two West Campus dining halls have begun to offer entirely vegetarian and vegan options on select dinners for the rest of this spring semester. Plant-Powered Dinners are offered at Flora Rose on Fridays and at Bethe on Sundays.
Earlier this semester, I sat down with Professor Bruce Monger, Oceanography, who offered an environmental perspective on eating, his own philosophy on food and diet choices and advice on how to eat sustainably.
About a month ago, over 1,000 people first started signing a petition lobbying for the return of Nutritional Sciences 200: Vegetarian Nutrition, a former course taught by Prof. T. Colin Campbell, one of the world’s leading researchers in the field. The petition claims that Cornell’s abrupt removal of the course and refusal to disclose an explanation was “clearly a violation of academic freedom.”
The course was pulled back in 2005, and Campbell has spent the last few years attempting to settle the matter internally with the University.