Around twenty students gathered at the Theil building last Friday to discuss the ambition of the Executive Board to turn the campus completely vegan. The motive behind the organisation of the event was to change the reputation of vegans and give those who are against a vegan campus a platform to voice their opinions. Therefore, Jan Stoop, associate professor in Applied Economics, was invited to speak about why he thinks the food offered on campus should be vegan.

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Angry vegans

Stoop has been living vegan for six years: “I don’t want to be a vegan. It sucks. Cheese tastes delicious. I’d rather eat it than not.” However, he claimed veganism to be less of a decision but more of a conclusion. He sees the social circumstances to be the hardest about veganism: “Our image is always the angry vegans that shout at others that aren’t vegan.”

Stoop’s argumentation for veganism was focused mainly on animal welfare and based on three assumptions that would lead to the conclusion that the university should serve vegan food only.

The basic assumption was that everything the university does must be consistent to be successful. His second and most important assumption was that it should be in the interest of the university – and in fact of all people – to minimise unnecessary suffering when practically possible. On top of that Stoop presented the assumption of the marginal case, a term introduced by the philosopher Peter Singer, that describes the moral status of non-human animals. Just like humans, animals have a brain and nerves which makes them able to suffer and feel pain. Therefore, he concluded that the university made the right decision to minimise animal suffering by becoming a fully vegan campus.

Little debate

The audience showed great engagement in the conversation. Some pointed out that an increase in vegan food consumption, however, is also linked to problems such as deforestation, emissions from imports or low pay of foreign farmers.

Initially the event was planned to be a debate between Jan Stoop and Public Administration student Nawin Ramcharan on whether the campus food should be vegan, but Ramcharan was prevented from attending the event last minute. As a result, there was little debate. Most students present at the event were in favour of a vegan campus. Students also expressed the wish that EUR not only becomes a vegan campus, but that the university sees the active promotion of veganism to the outside world as one of its key responsibilities.

The event was organised by students of LDE, PISE, VSA and The Erasmus Sustainability Hub.