A Vegan Cafeteria in the Deep South
The College of Charleston has announced that it’s establishing a vegan (and kosher) cafeteria* to accommodate the interests of “ethical eaters.” Needless to say, this is a sure sign of progress, a clear indication that veganism is edging its way into “mainstream” venues. One expects a place such as UC-San Diego to start a vegan cafeteria, but the College of Charleston? Well, not so much.
Charleston is a city whose culinary traditions are infused with the aroma of smoked pork, jerked chicken, beef, fish, and shellfish. It’s a place that has delicately blended the rich traditions of the West Indies and Carolina Lowcountry–where slaves once free-ranged African cattle in the pine forests—to create a carnival of carnivorism. The college, which identifies deeply with city, was thus a tough nut to crack.
The campaign to achieve the goal of a vegan cafeteria was initiated from the ground up, with the help of this form letter penned by PETA (which, indeed, can be a force for rationality when it focuses on issues germane to the planet Earth):
Vegan foods are more popular than ever at schools nationwide, including here at College of Charleston. As a student on campus, I am hoping to see more delicious, cruelty-free foods offered. With schools across the country such as the University of California, San Diego and the University of North Texas opening all-vegan dining halls within the past year, the very least we could do is offer a wide range of vegan meals in every dining hall. There are so many delicious and eco-friendly foods available nowadays, from faux-beef tacos to vegan pizza, and College of Charleston could be doing so much more to meet the growing demand. I urge you to work with students to implement these changes.
I’m always encouraged when I see vegan progress at the college level. This is the crucible of adult identity formation for many people, a time to decide how to live a deliberate life centered on compassion and positive social change. A vegan cafeteria might seem like a symbolic “victory,” but for the animals not served there, it’ll be anything but. Should you feel so inclined, let the college know how proud you are of its decision. The President’s chief of staff is Brian McGee: email@example.com.
* As Tim notes in the comments, this is not an exclusive vegan cafeteria and I should have clarified that point in the post, but I may have swept away by the nugget of hope at the core of this development.