Global Neighborhood Association considers Animal Ethics at Vegan Dinner

The students, faculty and staff of the Global Neighborhood Association met Tuesday, March 1, for their monthly House dinner.  They hosted Lenore Braford, who runs the Piedmont Farm Animal Refuge in Pittsboro.

Appropriate to the evening’s theme, Aramark prepared a delicious vegan dinner.  It included quinoa salad, vegetable salad, black bean burgers, Asian-style tofu, and tater tots, as well as several delicious dessert options.

Associate Professor Safia Swimelar opened the evening by challenging guests to think about their daily decisions, specifically food choices. What are the ethical issues to consider about our food’s impact on the environment, animals, and other humans? 

There are cultural issues that inform our choices of which animals people eat, she sad. Many religions and traditions have prescribed ways to kill and prepare animals. And finally there are political issues of power and visibility about food.

Swimelar then introduced Lenore Braford, who runs the Piedmont Farm Animal Refuge in Pittsboro, North Carolina. She began by talking about her personal journey from omnivore to animal rights activist. 

Though Braford always loved animals, it was not until she took a college philosophy class that she began to question her assumptions about her dietary choices. When she was challenged to justify why humans should eat animals, Braford found she could not make a convincing argument. Braford pointed out that most people only know about farm animals secondhand. Her refuge gives visitors and volunteers the opportunity to meet and connect with animals in a deep way. 

There are over 50 animals in residence, including chickens, turkeys, and goats.

After Braford’s presentation, students discussed some of issues related to animal food production. Half of attendees considered the “ag-gag” laws, which prohibit undercover investigations of farms or factories and target whistleblowers of animal rights abuses. Other attendees considered the benefits and challenges of synthetic meat, which is meat grown in laboratories that does not require killing an animal.

The final House dinner of the year will be held Tuesday, April 5, and feature Brett Evans, a farmer and Elon alumnus. Evans runs the Piedmont Biofarm, which provides local and sustainable produce in Pittsboro, North Carolina.