Veronica Brown '17 Assistant News Editor
In 2012, Kinari Horton ’14 and Madeleine Lifsey ’15 founded the Animal Advocates of Smith College as a “a safe community space for Smith students to support each other in animal advocacy,” as well as a way “to stimulate more discussion of animal rights issues on campus.” One of the organization’s major goals for this year is to introduce “meatless Monday” to Smith dining halls.
Lifsey, who serves as the organization’s current president, and the other members of AASC have been working with dining services to get Smith involved in the meatless Monday initiative, which has recently gained significant traction across the country.
The tradition of meatless Monday has a long history in both World Wars, during which families reduced their meat consumption in order to conserve food for the troops. The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health launched the modern meatless Monday campaign in 2003. Many K-12 school districts have adopted meatless Monday policies, including some in Massachusetts. Barnard, Brown and Vassar are just a few examples of the over 100 colleges and universities that have committed to the movement.
Lifsey explains, “Going meatless is hands-down the best thing we can do for the environment, for our health, and of course for the animals.” The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health advocates meatless Monday on the basis of the health benefits of vegan dining, such as reduced cholesterol, as well as environmental benefits, such as reduced greenhouse gases and fuel dependence.
AASC has largely received support for the meatless Monday initiative from both students and dining services, and demand for increased vegetarian options has already resulted in the Morrow-Wilson dining hall going almost completely vegetarian.
Some students still prefer to have a meat option available for preference or health reasons. Dining Services proposes that meatless Monday at Smith will begin with a portion of dining halls going completely meatless for the day, while a few continue to offer a meat option in order to accommodate all students’ wishes.
In addition to their work on meatless Monday, AASC continues to offer regular events such as film screenings, vegan cooking workshops, speakers and field trips. Upcoming events include the screening of “Speciesism: The Movie” with a following presentation by the director, Mark Devries.
Through these events, Lifsey hopes the group can expand “discussions on intersectionality and how different forms of oppression depend on and reinforce each other.” AASC aims to collaborate more with other student groups in the future while continuing an on-campus dialogue about animal rights.