This is, most definitely, not the blog post I was hoping to write on this topic.
A few weeks ago, the Worcester College MCR—the graduate student government—debated a “Meatless Mondays” resolution, which would urge our dining hall to go vegetarian for one day a week. Initially, the people who drafted our motion couched it in terms of ‘choice’: hall’s main option is always meat, so meat-free Mondays would improve vegetarian options and add more variety (=choice) to the weekly offerings. Some astute MCR members quickly cried foul, though: how can taking away meat possibly create more options ? If we want better vegetarian food, why not leave meat alone and just have a “Better Vegetarian Options” motion?
It was pretty clear, at this point in the debate, that things were not looking good. While I don’t want to insert myself into the narrative as the hero, I did, at this point, jump in. I said, more or less, that of course Meatless Mondays isn’t about increasing choices—in fact, it’s about the exact opposite. Our goal is to make the college collectively acknowledge the serious environmental and ethical implications of meat eating and impose a limited restriction on this behaviour (just as we do with any number of other activities in which students might otherwise engage). Ultimately, the motion passed pretty overwhelming. I cherished the thought that—for once—offering an honest and rational argument actually led to the outcome for which I was hoping.
Our resolution had one more hurdle, though, before we could take it to the college administration: the undergraduate “JCR.” Technically, all graduates are members are also part of the JCR, so this evening I dragged my flexitarian housemate into this mysterious den of iniquity to offer my voice and vote on the motion’s behalf. As soon as debate started, though, a painfully familiar stream of bullshit that would make a BP executive proud started flowing: “Can we have an all-meat option day?” “Can you prove that going meatless will reduce demand by the same amount we don’t eat?” “If we do this, the college will lose money from student boycotting!” The vote was closer than I thought it would be, but my faith in the power of logic and debate went down in flames.
I don’t so much mind my concern for animals being perpetually thrown back in my face as I mind the pathetically shoddy justifications that usually accompany these rejections. I would be so much more content if people just said, “I know I should do something, but I just don’t care.” Let’s be honest. When you’re at a place like Oxford, you can’t even pretend to be stupid: you’re just selfish.
– – – – –
Jukebox: Propagandhi – Apparently I’m a “P.C. Fascist” (Because I Care About Both Humans and Non-Humans)