Food is always a good topic of conversation, but at Northwestern we like to talk about real food, not that artificial crap (although no one's complaining about 2 a.m. Domino’s). NBN talked food (and much more) with Sydney Doe, president of NU Veg Society, a student group that aims to provide a social community for vegans and vegetarians on campus, as well as informational outreach to spread the word on food sustainability. NU Veg Society’s most recent push has been for Meatless Mondays in Northwestern Dining halls, supporting individuals to choose to go “meatless."
What do you define as food activism?
Food activism is the pursuit of justice. It can either be using food as a vehicle to do that, or it can be toward promoting equality in access to food. A lot of vegetarians and vegans use food to promote environmental sustainability, animal welfare and human rights. You can also use food activism to promote equal distribution of food. If we took the grain we use to feed all of the livestock in the United States and instead used that to feed the 1.4 billion malnourished and starving people in the world, there would be enough calories for those all of those people to have twice as many calories as they need a day.
How are you trying to bring food activism to Northwestern’s campus?
A lot of what we do is promoting individual choices. It’s easier for people to be vegetarian or vegan or reduce their animal consumption when there’s a welcoming community of people wanting to do the same thing on campus. We also try to implement change on a policy level. So that includes talking to NU dining and trying to get vegetarian and vegan options in the dining halls promoted, and trying to get veggie dogs and veggie burgers at Ryan Field.
What are your goals for Meatless Mondays?
The pledge to go meatless is an individual decision. The dining halls used to promote Meatless Mondays and we’re trying to get that push started again. We are almost at 350 pledges so far, and hopefully we can restart the support from NU dining for tabling in the dining halls to promote more pledges for going meatless on Mondays.
What are some of your favorite events NU Veg Society has brought to campus?
This past week we had Director of Campus Outreach Rachel Atcheson of the Humane League. She’s been giving her talk “The Ethics of What We Eat” around different college campuses so it was really exciting to get to host her. She is a really inspirational activist and I thought her talk was really poignant and we were able to communicate a lot of really good ideas.
What are you looking forward to in the future for NU Veg Society?
Our screening of the documentary Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret is going to be at 8:30 on Wednesday, October 28. It totally changed my perspective how important the environment is. It also unveils a lot of secrecy within the environmental movement when it comes to the affect of animal agriculture on the environment, the film has received some backlash from environmental organizations because it uncovers deliberate cover-up on the impact of animal agriculture on the environment. A lot of environmental organizations are totally silent on the issue. Cowspiracy is called the next An Inconvenient Truth because it is a really important expose on a really important issue.