Philosophy switches to plant-based food
Drinks, conferences, the annual faculty outing: almost all events the faculty board organises for the philosophy faculty will have a mostly vegan or vegetarian menu from now on. ‘We’re trying to stimulate the various departments to do the same for events that they organise themselves’, says dean Lodi Nauta.
Last week, the faculty board decided to switch to plant-based catering. Nauta: ‘It sounds a bit better than vegan.’ University lecturer Andrea Sangiacomo came up with the idea. He launched the online campaign #PlantPoweredCommunity
‘I have been a vegan myself since 2015’, says Sangiacomo. He initially changed his diet for health reasons, but later became interested in the ecological and moral issues of food sustainability. The production of meat and dairy, for example, is very bad for the environment. ‘When I began doing more research on the topic, I was overwhelmed by the evidence in support of not consuming animal products at all.’
Sangiacomo’s scientific research focuses on the question of how people learn new habits. He gets the answer to that question from Spinoza: it’s something people have to do together in a community.
‘The RUG has creating a sustainable society as one of its core values, so the university seemed like a perfect and receptive environment to start a broader discussion about sustainable food. Plant-based diets are an essential element in developing a sustainable society.’
The philosophy board and faculty council agree with him. That is why the faculty decided to support Sangiacomo’s #PlantPoweredCommunity campaign ‘in principle’, says Nauta. But it’s not like they’re banning all meat, fish, and dairy products.
‘We don’t want to force anyone to only eat plant-based foods’, he emphases. ‘After all, food is a personal, sensitive subject.’ Anyone who would like to eat meat or fish can indicate their preference in advance, and they’ll be given a different menu during events.
But meat is no longer a standard option. ‘The board felt it was a good initiative. It also goes with the RUG’s image of a green university.’ Nauta doesn’t expect many complaints: ‘We have many vegetarians working at our various departments. There’s an increasing amount of people who don’t eat meat.’
Sangiacomo is happy about the development. ‘I think the board has made a very courageous and important move’, he says. He has also noticed colleagues and students changing their eating habits. ‘But this invites people to discuss the matter and give it more thought.’
He hopes other faculties will follow in philosophy’s footsteps. It’s not about making everyone vegan, it’s about offering the opportunity to eat more plant-based food. It’s about making our lifestyle more sustainable.’