features em magazine
merson College’s environmental club does more than just encourage active recycling. Though recycling paper and cans is an effort towards a healthier planet, Earth Emerson promotes living a greener life in terms of all aspects of the Earth as it relates back to the Emerson community. Living in greener buildings, bringing local food to campus, and teaching students to appreciate the Boston Commons are just a few ways that Earth Emerson encourages green activism. However, the greatest concerns of today’s younger generation are those that come with the negative effects of the meat industry. More and more students, in addition to the members of Earth Emerson, are engaging in this new awareness of the economical and environmental effects of consuming the meat on their plates, while being more accepting of the lifestyle that comes with a greener diet. This October, Earth Emerson had a screening of Food Inc., the new documentary narrated by Eric Schlosser. “It talked about the big meat corporations and what goes on in factory farms. It examined how all of our food is genetically modified and how because of the big meat corporations diseases like E.Coli and Mad Cow Disease are getting into our food,” said Marketing Communications student and Earth Emerson CoPresident Jill Tedeschi, Class of 2011. In addition to the screening of the documentary, Earth Emerson hosts a vegetarian food festival each year, this year transforming it into solely vegan. “A lot of people are vegan at Emerson, and it’s difficult to have great food that supports vegetarianism without hurting the vegans, and veganism is the more ethical choice than vegetarianism. It’s more environmentally friendly,” says Tedeschi. Although groups such as Earth Emerson and sustainable earth-friendly students are making a conscientious movement towards veganism, the necessary foods are not always that readily available on campus, making it difficult to maintain such a lifestyle. In the past, Earth Emerson has tried to work with Aramark, the company that provides food for Emerson’s dining services, to see if the foods in the dining halls are local and which ones are organic. The problem many vegans and vegetarians on campus face is the lack of labels in the dining halls, something that Aramark has previously done on other college campuses. The President of Emerson’s Healthy Options Peer Educators, Catie Colliton, thinks that the way Aramark prepares food is unhealthy. “Coming from the perspective of a vegetarian, it was very hard to find vegetables that were cooked well when I lived on campus. Usually everything is cooked to death and that’s how vegetables lose their nutrients. You should really just eat vegetables raw- that would be the healthy way of eating them,” says Colliton. “All [Aramark’s] fruit is genetically modified so it doesn’t even taste like real fruit, which makes you not want to eat it. The apples- you can hold them in a small hand- that’s not how apples are supposed to be. Apples are supposed to be really big and their bananas are always funny tasting. You can taste the difference, so I always get my fruit at Farmer’s Market. It wasn’t even worth taking fruit from the dining hall for later,” says Colliton. With today’s “Go-Green society,” students are becoming
more aware of the environmental issues their actions have on the planet they live on. Limited dining hall options are not keeping students from staying vegan or vegetarian. Students who struggle to maintain a vegetarian or vegan diet on campus buy their own food. Dana Demetrio, 21, a graduate of the University of Vermont and a volunteer for the Boston Vegan Association, says a lot of young people today know more about what happens to animals and understand “they have the choice to be vegan.” Farm Sanctuary, the nation’s leading farm animal’s protection organization located in Watkins Glen, upstate New York, rescues and rehabilitates farm animals that would be sent to slaughter. In addition to caring for 1,000 farm animals during any given time, Farm Sanctuary has been advocating and campaigning on behalf of the farm animals at a national level through pro-animal legislation and public awareness programs since 1986. Farm Sanctuary Campaigns Manager Jasmin Singer, based in New York City, takes part in a lot of activism in New York. “Here in New York City we have the biggest vegan community in the country, and in many ways from a social perspective, it’s like it’s own city being a vegan and an animal rights activist. It’s like being a part of a real cool person’s club,” says Singer. The increase in vegans, according to Singer, has made it more socially acceptable to be a vegan or a vegetarian and less alienating even as far back as the mid ‘90s when she was in college. “Many more people are starting to make the connection between the food we eat and the animals that their food used to be. When they look into the food production process, they are unhappily surprised. They realize that what and whom they consume is not necessarily in line with their ethical and moral beliefs,” says Singer, “so the natural tendency at that point is to be vegan. I think being vegan opens up people’s eyes of suffering for any group of people. The increase in vegans makes for a more conscientious society.” After being a vegetarian for twelve years, Singer transcended to veganism and has kept to it for the past seven years. “I thought meat was icky, and I think that’s why a lot of people go vegetarian — they just can’t think of the idea of eating flesh,” Singer reminisced. At that point it was not an ethical or political viewpoint that convinced Singer to resort to veggies. She was just simply grossed out by eating meat. “When I was twenty-three or twenty-four I saw footage of animal production, and I couldn’t believe how much cruelty was involved in the egg and dairy industries. I think, to me, the worst of the worst is the egg and dairy industry, and that’s why I went vegan. I had a friend who was vegan, which was really helpful when I decided to do so as well.” That kind of mentoring would be beneficial and helpful to students looking to switch to a different healthy and moral lifestyle. By helping others who want to help the underdogs, as Singer refers to the farm animals, students are speaking out for so many oppressed groups in today’s society. “I think that there are a lot more vegans and vegetarians here. I don’t know if it’s because it’s the liberal hippie atmosphere that just goes along with all the vegetarians and vegans.