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Club & Greek

Plants for Peace Provide a Placid Potluck

About 20 members of the Monmouth community attended a vegan potluck hosted by Plants for Peace in Magill Club Dining on Sunday, March 31.

According to the official website, Plants for Peace is “a volunteer organization offering free vegan-related educational programs that advocate for people, the planet, and animals.”

The event encouraged all attendees to provide a vegan dish, which is anything that excludes dairy, eggs, meat, fish, poultry, gelatin, casein, whey, honey, or caseinate. It was also encouraged for attendees to bring their own plates and utensils in order to help reduce waste.

Each semester, Plants of Peace holds two to three potlucks. Chris Hirschler, Ph.D., an associate professor of health sciences, began the potlucks almost 10 years ago, along with Mary Harris, a specialist professor of communication. This one in particular was organized by Jessica Henry, a sophomore health studies student.

“Plants for Peace is a community-based organization, not a Monmouth club,” Henry explained.  “[However,] the potluck is Dr. Hirschler’s idea. He wanted to educate Monmouth students and the community about the animal and environmental climate.”

Randall Abate, J.D., a professor of political science and sociology, was invited to be the guest speaker. Abate explained that animal law involves a “deep-rooted sense of what’s right.” While there is a moral motivation to help animals, many people will fail to live up to this, because they do not see how they will benefit from it.

Environmental law directly impacts humans and the world we live in, causing it to gain more attention than animal law. “Environmental law involves humans and animal law does not. It is more selfless,” Abate said.

While there are many ways in which environmental and animal law seem to connect to each other, people do not treat it in the same manner. Abate shared, “More than half of my colleagues in animal law are vegetarian or vegan, but not in environmental law.”

“If animals are a part of the world around us, then why do we fail to provide them with the protection they deserve? There are only three federal laws currently protecting animals and they are limited and not well-enforced,” Abate added.

In terms of anti-cruelty action, NJ has ranked 17th, making it neither the best nor worse. A major issue within animal law is that regulations are decided on a state level.

“Animal law has remained more of a fringe movement, since it lacks federal legitimacy,” Abate said.

However, as more research is done on the intelligence levels of animals, people are able to add scientific evidence to their morals. “There are so many ways in which animal and environmental law can do good for our food system,” Abate said.

At the moment, the USDA is not required to provide any anti-cruelty information. “At a limited level, the USDA provides nutritional content. That is the extent on their mandate,” Abate said.

Abate noted that it would be helpful to include carbon footprint information on meat packaging. This type of label would be similar to warnings that are placed on tobacco products. It would clearly state the effects of eating meat, and it would warn consumers to buy the products at their own risk.

“Veganism allows for a lot less carbon emissions,” Lauren Fairchild, a sophomore biology student and attendee, said.

Since Plants for Peace is not a recognized club on campus, Henry is in the process of starting her own vegan activism club. She is actively working with Student Activities to get the club approved for the fall, and it will be open to all students who are passionate about animal rights. Henry explained, “A vegan diet allows us to conserve water and produce less waste.”

Plants for Peace hopes to spread awareness of animal-cruelty, through their potlucks and guest speakers. The next potluck will be held on May 5 at 12:30 p.m. It will be a vegan restaurant panel, in which attendees will be educated on how restaurants accommodate vegans and include vegan-friendly options on their menus.

For students interested in learning more on this topic, Abate will be organizing a study abroad opportunity to study animal law in Australia next year.