Animal rights activists and hunters talk local food

By Andrew Pham | 10/31/12 10:00am

Members of the Dartmouth Animal Welfare Group and the Dartmouth Outing Club's Bait and Bullet gathered Tuesday night in the Haldeman Center to discuss issues pertaining to vegan diets, meat consumption, local foods, treatment of animals and everything else in-between. Served on the menu were vegan brownies and fresh salad with tofu and greens picked from local produce, steak and grilled chicken provied by Bait and Bullet and a whole lot of interesting conversation.

Animal rights activists pointed to the treatment of animals in the mass production of meat as a primary concern in the debate for veganism. Most members at the event said they supported local food in at least some capacity. In particular, Bait and Bullet espoused eliminating meat from factory farming, minimizing beef and eating locally. While hunters generally agreed on the idea that it is better to eat local meat, animal rights proponents said they also take into consideration an animal’s quality of life.

It’s a touchy topic, one that presented personal, philosophical, and practical points of view.

Most at the joint talk agreed that hunting and then killing for game is more humane than domesticating animals for food. But, where does one draw the line for what animals to eat? Why eat one animal, but not another? While fish may have a less developed nervous system to the point where they can’t feel pain as much as the typical domesticated animals do, and are hence considered more acceptable in certain vegetarian diets, one may argue that animals in general are not cognitively aware enough of their situations to assess their surroundings, which can only mean that all meat is fair game!

On the topic of animal welfare, Rosalie Lipfert ’13 illustrated humanity’s growing tendency to rely on farm animals. “In some places in the world, it’s easy to have support being a vegan, but not in this country,” she said. “We have evolved to eat meat, and while we started domesticating animals as a result, eating meat from the agriculture surrounding us is no longer necessary. So, why eat meat?”

Scott Lacy ’13 also gave his own thoughts from the perspective of hunters and fishers. “I don’t eat meat on campus," Lacy said. “We need to shift the discussion away from meeting optimal requirements and other selfish needs, and focusing more on the environment, which hunters seek to balance.”

Vegetarians as a group have risen to about 8-12% of college students, according to those present. Even though meat lovers might have strong enough feelings about the taste of meat, and others might prefer to obtain their vitamin B12 in a convenient fashion, maybe we should all take a deeper look into the local food movement. For more information, contact,, or Jennifer Davidson ’15 and Laura Bergston ’15. Take a stance! One way or another.



Andrew Pham