Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Vol. CLIV, Issue 10
Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Vegetarian Day sparks annual campus controversy

Vegetarian Day in Prentiss Dining Hall elicited mixed reactions among the student body. A day devoted entirely to the non-carnivorous members of the Whitman campus, Vegetarian Day was held last Wednesday, Oct. 24, in Prentiss Dining Hall. Vegetarian Day sparks annual campus controversy | Illustration by Mitchell

Vegetarian and vegan students alike rejoiced when they did not have to ask if a given Bon Appétit creation was meat or dairy free. For the three meals offered in Prentiss last Wednesday, everything was entirely vegetarian or vegan.

Bon Appétit is committed to providing vegetarian and vegan options at every meal, but many vegetarian students believe having one day specifically devoted to these foods encourages campus awareness.

“Vegetarians don’t just eat salads all the time. Veganism and vegetarianism offer tons of food groups that you won’t be missing if you cut out meat,” senior Katie Presley said.

Vegetarian Day served as an example for the variety of food available without meat or dairy; falafels, a taco bar, roasted vegetable lasagna and Asian stir fry were some of the options.

“If you’re giving up meat, it’s not that drastic of a difference,” senior and president of the Action for Animals club Suzanne Zitzer said.

For almost every meat option there is a vegetarian or vegan substitute in the dining halls.

“I think that’s really cool. It shows they’re interested in this group of people,” Presley said.

Instead of an attack on meat eaters, Zitzer wanted it to be clear that Vegetarian Day is meant to be positive.

“The purpose is to show people the variety of vegetarian food that is out there, to ask people to be daring and try something new,” Zitzer said.

In conjunction with the dining hall theme, Action for Animals asked students to take a pledge and try out a vegan or vegetarian diet for the week. Senior Merilee Nyland noted her own experience when she became a vegan. She challenged herself to a month and realized how easy the lifestyle can be.

“People say they don’t want to hear about it, but once you adopt it you think ‘now I’m ready to learn about it,'” Nyland said.

In response to Vegetarian Day, a number of students expressed discontent.

“Let the vegetarians be vegetarians, but don’t try to impose that value on the rest of us,” sophomore Dan Oschrin said in an e-mail.

In comparison to last year, sophomore Amelia Gallaher noted this year’s Vegetarian Day was a lot less invasive.

“There weren’t pamphlets at every table showing images of brutalized baby lambs, attempting to make meat eaters feel like bad people for eating meat,” Gallaher said.

While Vegetarian Day may have created less of an uproar this year, Oschrin thinks the event had an adverse effect.

“I wasn’t the only one upset. Events like the Prentiss Vegetarian Day make people more resentful than open-minded,” Oschrin said in an e-mail.

During dinner Professor Hanrahan gave a “Symposium on Animals” as a supplement to the all vegetarian and vegan fare in the Prentiss back room. Expounding the “principle of equal consideration,” Hanrahan discussed the interests of animals and one’s moral obligation to think of them when deciding to eat meat or not.

“We would never do to humans what we do to animals. And if we would never do them, then we should never do them to animals either,” Hanrahan said.

Over the course of an hour many scenarios were presented comparing racism, sexism and discrimination in general. Hanrahan noted that people are quick to lie to themselves about animals and write them off with the phrase ‘oh, it’s just animals.’

“When it comes to the right to be harmed, does it matter how intelligent you are?” Hanrahan said.

Sophomore Willy Stein attended the discussion and felt he was presented with a very narrow argument.
“It was completely one-sided. I wouldn’t have felt comfortable saying I eat meat in that crowd,” Stein said.

Vegetarian Day was met with mixed reactions. Some students felt it imposed on their rights to eat meat, while others appreciated a day to increase awareness about the lifestyle.

“I don’t think its such a stretch for members of campus to have one day dedicated to vegetarians and vegans,” Merilee Nyland said.

“It is my firm belief that everyone should be made aware of exactly what went into producing the meat and dairy products they choose to eat,” junior Vanessa Johnson said in an e-mail.

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