A network promoting veganism and animal rights hopes to garner support this semester.
Students and faculty recently have been discussing, planning and promoting a new Main Campus animal rights organization, focused on vegan outreach, which if submitted by Feb. 29, could maintain recognized status for the current semester.
The Temple Vegan Action Network is a non-violent initiative to educate the Temple community about veganism, an act of abstaining from any use of animal products.
Assistant English professor Dr. Dan Featherston, who teaches courses involving animal relations, said he “met a lot of students [and] colleagues who are interested in [veganism], and sometimes it comes not just from a personal, dietary interest in living a healthier life personally, but also are concerned about the environment or concerned about animal welfare and rights.”
Similar to Promoters of Animal Welfare, Featherston hopes TVAN will educate its members on animals rights issues pertaining to on and off-campus issues, but will have more of a focus on animals used for food rather than companion animals.
“One thing we want to impart [is that] animal issues are human issues,” Featherston, the current PAW faculty advisor, said.
Recent studies have shown that switching from a standard American diet to a vegan diet is very effective in the fight against climate change.
“I think we’re really in a kind of food revolution right now, where people are thinking about eating as a political act,” Featherston said. “It’s not just a personal or lifestyle choice, but what we eat and how we eat impacts not only our personal health but the local [and] global environment.”
Researchers at the University of Chicago concluded that in 2006, raising farm animals for meat production and consumerism contributes massive amounts of greenhouse gases to the environment – far more than all ways of transportation combined – which is a main factor surrounding the issue of global warming today.
If done correctly, veganism is also an extremely healthy way of eating for humans, and in return, won’t cause unnecessary suffering or danger for other living creatures, proponents claim.
Brett Miller, a Ph.D. candidate in political science who also teaches classes in the political science department at Temple, said, “I’m really excited about getting this group together to coalesce activities and efforts with other like-minded people.”
Miller, a practicing vegan for three years, said he sometimes incorporates human relations with non-human animals in class discussions. He hopes that through TVAN, interested members can be educated on the every day elements of veganism, as well as the theoretical, philosophical ties to the act.
TVAN appealed to Miller because he enjoys the thought of getting people together under this general cause, where there’s much disagreement and discussion to be had, but to be able to, “focus those efforts and collectivize them in order to move forward.”
Featherston, who will be TVAN’s faculty advisor, and Miller, a main organizer and involved member of the new group, have stressed outreach to students and faculty members alike to promote veganism in a non-violent matter.
Through TVAN, Miller and Featherston hope to host several speaker-series where experts come to Main Campus and talk about critical animal studies. They also aspire to enrich TVAN members with cooking classes or demonstrations and many other vegan-education initiatives.
Although members don’t have to be experienced vegans to join the group, Featherston and Miller hope that members have a keen interest in pursuing the act.
“[Veganism is the] moral baseline for which we pursue the rest of our activism,” Miller said.
Featherston wants TVAN members to “take seriously, not just love but [have] a compassion or ethical concern for animals, to be committed to that non-exploitation of them, either in daily practice or seriously thinking about it.”
A group of about 20 students and faculty members have already expressed desire to participate in TVAN, which meets the requirements of having enough interest to be a recognized organization on Main Campus.
“There are [growing] vegan groups and organizations in the city – more restaurants, food trucks – so there’s a real opportunity I think economically,” Featherston said. “[Veganism] is not a fad.”
Lauren Hertzler can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.