Category Archives: Updates

Upcoming Event: Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs, and Wear Cows

Join us Friday, April 12th at 6:30pm in Room CAS 211 for an introduction on Carnism. The facebook event can be found here; please feel free to invite friends and family to attend.

This captivating presentation, based on the award-winning book of the same name, is presented by internationally acclaimed speaker Dr. Melanie Joy. In “Why We Love Dogs”, Joy, a social psychologist, explains carnism, the invisible belief system that shapes our perceptions of the meat (and eggs/dairy) we eat, so that we love some animals and eat others without knowing why. Joy describes how carnism, like other isms (sexism, racism, etc.), is most harmful when it is unrecognized; and it is sustained by complex social and psychological mechanisms. Using powerful imagery, thought-provoking analyses, and a compelling narrative, Joy explains the ways in which carnism conditions us to unknowingly act against our core values, our own interests, and the interests of others. By illuminating the invisible mechanisms of carnism, Joy helps viewers become more informed consumers and empowered citizens.

Melanie Joy, Ph.D., Ed.M. is the founder and president of Carnism Awareness & Action Network. Dr. Joy is a Harvard-educated psychologist, professor of psychology and sociology at the University of Massachusetts, Boston, celebrated speaker, and the author of the award-winning primer on carnism “Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs, and Wear Cows”. She has written a number of articles on psychology, animal protection, and social justice and she has been featured on programs including the BBC, National Public Radio, PBS, ABC Australia, and Good Morning Croatia, and in Slovenia’s Jana, the Austrian Der Standard and the Italian Le Scienze. Dr. Joy has given her critically acclaimed carnism presentation across the United States as well as internationally. Dr. Joy is also the author of Strategic Action for Animals.

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Feeding a Black Nation Presentation by Breeze Harper

Part I

When I discovered that there would be a presentation on intersectionality, I was very, very excited. As a bit of background, I am a woman of colour and a vegan. In all honesty, I have experienced that most events that are geared towards discussing veganism do not interest me, as many of them blatantly disregard the importance of intersectionality and are geared towards a mostly white, neoliberal, upper-middle class audience.

Therefore, Harper’s presentation seemed like a very promising opportunity for a fresh, new perspective on veganism that keeps in mind other equally important oppressive systems such as sexism, classism, and racism.

Harper’s presentation discussed her thesis, which was still a work in progress. I personally thought that her introduction to the presentation could have been better rehearsed, but its content was great nonetheless. Harper’s thesis critiques the work of Queen Afua, writer of the book Sacred Woman, which sees veganism as a way to decolonise one’s self and to “heal the black womb.” Queen Afua speaks of a matriarchal society in Southern Egypt, long before colonization and slavery, where women were seen as sacred, and where the most sacred bond was that of a mother and her child.

This society also had a plant-based diet. In contrast, is the European society of the same era: a violent, patriarchal society. Therefore the question is raised: Why do we look towards European, or otherwise, white, Western cultures, in order to heal the black womb? Why do we look towards the violent, patriarchal culture of the colonisers? Harper explained how during slavery, the black womb was seen as a unit of production, much like a factory that is good for nothing more than breeding slaves. The body of the black woman, therefore, is in need of healing from generations of abuse. For this reason, Queen Afua advocates a return to the vegan diet of matriarchal Southern Egypt.

That said, my main issue with Queen Afua, which was a topic touched on (but not thoroughly enough in my opinion) by Harper is how heteronormative and cis-sexist it is, as well as how it assumes that the black woman is naturally partnered with the black man and returns to the concept of a nuclear family which consists of a black woman, a black man, and their children who are seen as the future of a black nation. As Harper is queer and also in an interracial marriage, I expected her to discuss how problematic this view is, and was disappointed that it wasn’t discussed with more depth.

However, I was very happy that Harper discussed in depth the problem with veganism and classism, which also is not discussed enough by Queen Afua. Being vegan, and being able to live on a healthy vegan diet, is a privilege, as most people do not have access to things such as fresh produce, etc. I was especially happy that Harper advocated food justice movements such as the Food Empowerment Project.

Part II

Another very, very important point that I really was thankful that Harper discussed was the concept of “cruelty-free” food. Many foods and products seen as “cruelty-free” are derived at the expense of workers in less developed countries who work in slave-like conditions, and therefore to truly produce “cruelty-free” products, one must also look at the source. This is a topic that in my opinion is usually ignored by most vegan speakers, and for this reason I was very happy that she discussed it.

All in all, I really enjoyed Breeze Harper’s presentation and think that it was a very educational and eye-opening experience for all those who attended.

Breeze Harper’s recap of the trip and reading list of materials mentioned in the presentation is located here on her Sistah Vegan blog.

– Naomi Sianturi

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10/17 Meeting Reflection

The October 17th BU Veg Society meeting was a huge success. Our exceptional Tori Brown led a necessary discussion on activism, specifically, on the merits of leafletting. We discussed how leafletting can be an intimidating prospect at first, but a great dialogue between seasoned leafletters and novices then emerged, quelling many fears. I hope some of the new faces I saw were reassured by the consensus that negative remarks from passers-by and confrontations with recipients of our literature almost never happen!

One new member, by the end of the discussion, mentioned that she wanted to help us design some new leaflets and perhaps work her way up to distributing them. This was super exciting, along with the participatory energy of our new and old members alike.

We also began brainstorming ideas for next semester’s events, which to me, was the most exciting part of the meeting. The Veg Society has been off to a phenomenal start event-wise so far, and to keep the momentum going would be such a great thing for the animals, as well as for the activists among us who hope to keep enriching themselves and learning.

Sitting in a great big circle can perhaps, for some, be reminiscent of our elementary school days, but in fact, it highlights the value of a truly Socratic environment, seeing as though the Veg Society prides itself on its non-heirarchical structure.

Finally, Peace O’ Pie vegan pizza was delicious as always!

Hope to see you all at our next meeting.

– Gunita Singh

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The Truth About Lobster Night

BU Dining’s annual lobster night is again upon us.  As the sole animal advocacy student organization on campus, we’d like to offer you another perspective on the event, and hopefully inspire you to think about it more critically.

The truth is that lobsters feel pain.  Researchers specializing in animal behavior have demonstrated this several times.  In fact, physical pain and emotional stress are important survival mechanism for all animals.  Sure, the suffering a lobster experiences may be different than what a human experiences, but that doesn’t make it insignificant.  To unnecessarily cause another individual pain when there are easy alternatives is inherently unethical.

The Humane Slaughter act, the only federal law regulating how animals raised for food are slaughtered, provides minimal humane consideration for the slaughter of cows, pigs, goats, and sheep, but excludes poultry and seafood.  As is the common method of preparing lobsters, BU Dining will be boiling these animals alive on Thursday night.  To the members of our organization, this represents a complete disregard for the animals’ basic interest to be free from pain.  And we’re not just talking about a few lobsters, either- we’ve ordered 7,400 lobsters for the event.

Please, consider the impact that your food choices have on the other sentient creatures of the planet.

The Vegetarian Society is holding a dinner for anyone who does not want to participate in lobster night this Thursday.  Our Facebook event page is here. We hope to see you there!

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Splash!!!

This past Sunday after Matriculation, Veg Society tabled at SPLASH!, the student activities info fair on Nickerson Field. Though it got a little wet towards the end, we had a great time leafletting and talking to all of the new members of the Boston University community! In total we met over 130 folks interested in the world of vegetarianism and animal rights. If you didn’t get a chance to sign up to receive our newsletter, email vegsoc@bu.edu! 

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Gene Baur and Breeze Harper!

We’re more than pleased to announce two of our events for the fall!

First, Gene Baur, the founder of Farm Sanctuary (http://www.farmsanctuary.org), will be speaking in September. “Highlighting milestones over the past 25 years – including landmark legal advances, shifts in public awareness, changes in the marketplace, and growing coverage of farm animal issues by the mainstream media – Gene’s thoughtful and moving presentations set forth the great progress we have achieved by working together and address what each of us can do to help to create a more compassionate society. Gene grounds his message not on accusations or judgments but on facts and research. He appeals to our better selves and explains how we can, and why we must, align our everyday actions with our own values and interests.”

Then, in November, Breeze Harper, author of Sistah Vegan, will be speaking. “What does race have to do with how one practices veganism? Why and how to legacies of colonialism and racism affect one’s vegan philosophies? Breeze Harper’s lecture will analyze the pro-vegan book Sacred Woman, by Queen Afua. Provocative and controversial, Breeze will explore how and why Afua believes that black women in the USA can only truly heal from centuries of racism and colonialism through a vegan diet rooted in pre-colonial Africa.”

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Staying Veg

We can all agree that in recent years, Boston has become quite spoiled with veg food establishments. With blessings like Veggie Galaxy, Peace O Pie, Grasshopper, My Thai, Veggie Planet, Life Alive, True Bistro, and most recently, FoMu (more on that later), eating out veg in the city is more of a present than a problem. Wherever you are over the summer, might be quite the opposite. Here are some tips for staying veg when you’re not in Boston! 

Prepare! Though this may seem like a simple thing, it really makes a difference in how you eat. Try these tips on for size: Make yourself meals before going out or going to work. Check the Internet for local veg establishments in the area. Try to plan out where you’re going to eat in advance and look at that establishment’s website – or call them! Go grocery shopping for yourself or your family and try to eat out as little as possible as well to avoid missing meals.
Ask! Don’t be afraid to pester a server or employee about what’s in their food. After all, they should know! Instead of saying you’re vegan or vegetarian, tell them you have allergies – people are (sadly) much more apt to take you seriously when you tell them. Ask to see ingredients specifically as opposed to just asking if something is vegan or vegetarian. If your server can’t help you, ask for someone in charge. Use the Internet to look up if an ingredient or an item is veg-friendly.
Read! Skimming the plethoras of veg blogs, books, and news that are out there help to keep you stoked on the veg! Check out awesome things going on here: View animals rescued from factory farms at FARM SANCTUARY. Read sites like VegNewsVegansaurusVegan.comReddit Animal RightsReddit VeganVegWeb, & more. Check out books like Eating AnimalsMeat Market, Animal Liberation, and more!

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