Organization promotes animal rights

Organization promotes animal rights

Organization promotes animal rights
October 10
08:11 2013

Melissa Wylie / Assigning Editor

In its inaugural semester, the student organization Mean Greens for Animals is educating the UNT community about animal rights and petitioning to bring cage-free eggs to campus.

“Our long-term goal is to make UNT a more cruelty-free, veg-friendly campus,” communications senior Alexandria Beck said. “We already have the vegan dining hall, which is amazing, but we’re trying to get as many vegan options as possible and educate people about why we’re trying to do that.”

Beck is the president and founder of MGFA. She said she began the organization after learning how to be an effective advocate at the Animal Rights National Conference in Washington, D.C., this summer.

“I’ve been vegan for two years, and I just felt like there weren’t really any animal rights or vegan organizations on campus,” Beck said. “So I thought I would start one.”

One of the short-term goals for the semester is to have students sign a petition requesting cage-free eggs to be served across campus.

Beck said battery cages are one of the cruelest elements of the food industry, preventing birds from spreading their wings and accessing food and water.

“Cage-free is a huge welfare reform for the animals,” Beck said. “And if UNT switched, 8,000 to 12,000 hens would be affected every year.”

Three tangible petitions and an online version are available to sign. In a few months, Beck said she is hoping to present 1,000 to 2,000 signatures to Bill McNeace, executive director of dining services.

Ken Botts, director of special projects for dining services, is the MGFA faculty advisor. Botts said a substantial number of signatures would be needed for dining services to make the switch.

“It’s the only way it’s going to happen,” Botts said. “We need to hear from students.”

Botts, who is also vegan, said MGFA also promotes food sustainability and is pushing for awareness of how global meat consumption damages the environment.

Continuous deforestation and resource shortages result from raising animals for food, Botts said.

“What’s going to happen is that we’re going to destroy our Earth,” he said.

Beck said 10 billion land animals are killed every year for food.

“More animals are killed for food than there are people in the world,” Beck said. “Not very many people pay attention to that issue, and I feel that it’s important.”

Beck said the college demographic can play a big part in animal rights activism.

“I definitely feel like college students, in general, are more receptive and more concerned about the issue,” Beck said. “They’re typically more open-minded and willing to listen and possibly change some of their habits, while older people often are not willing to change.”

Beck said she was surprised to see about 25 students at the first meeting on Sept. 23.

Botts said MGFA is not exclusive to vegans and vegetarians, and is open to anyone looking to impact animal rights.

“The club, what they stand for and what they accomplish, can really affect future generations,” he said.

Art education sophomore Blithe Parsons is the MGFA vice president. Parsons said she wants the club to debunk myths about vegetarianism and veganism, such as the idea that the dietary lifestyles do not allow for the necessary amount of protein and other nutrients.

“I really want students on campus to understand that being vegan doesn’t have to be expensive,” Parsons said.

Beck said she is planning several activities for the organization, including a vegan bake sale fundraiser and participation in the Dallas-Fort Worth Walk for Farm Animals.

The next meeting will be at 5 p.m. Oct. 14 in Crumley Hall, room 180D.

“I think once people learn the truth about how animals are treated they’re typically against it and think it’s wrong,” Beck said. “They just aren’t aware that they’re supporting it.”

Cage-free eggs from Natural Grocer’s in Denton. These eggs are from Farmers’ Hen House, a family run farm in Iowa. Feature photo by Kristen Ontiveros / Contributing Photographer  

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