Written by Elise Cranston; Media by Kelsey Kuethe
It is hard to miss anything in a small town like Greenville, so when the whispers around campus scoffed about hippie liberals taking over the Greenville College Dining Commons, my interest was piqued. To begin, it is necessary to claim my bias: I am a vegetarian. It is a part of me that I hold dear to my identity, but it is also a part I am learning to live with grace. So while the DC’s Meatless Mondays don’t faze me, I do question the motives. Meatless Mondays turn out to be not so meatless, as only the main line will be free of our fuzzy farm friends. The DC claims that the goal of the move towards Meatless Mondays is that students will improve their personal health. Even though it is not clearly stated, the underlying fact that the DC is a business leads me to believe that it is merely a financial decision. This diminishes the moral, ethical, and health-based values I place in my choice to not eat animals. I refer to it as “eating animals” because that is the title of the book by Jonathan Safran Foer that led me to pursue vegetarianism. I love the idea of our campus being more intentional and concerned with our diets, but starting with lacking motives can lead to nothing.
I believe that as a Christian college, our motives must be in line with our end goals. If the end goal of Greenville College is to be more financially successful, then it has missed the theme of the gospel. Don’t misinterpret me; I am not condemning Greenville or anyone at Greenville for misrepresenting a Christ-like life. Not at all. I am concerned, however, with the dining commons turning a moral issue into a business one. But perhaps the most disturbing part of this entire hubbub is that people seem to be more outraged about the idea of not eating meat for one day than the fact that millions of children go without eating anything for several days, let alone meat. Maybe this is the real issue.
I commend Greenville for taking a step in the right direction, but it wouldn’t hurt to pause and mediate on the motives driving this choice. My advice to the students worried that the communists are taking over the school is to be creative with your food and try new things. I can personally attest for the black bean burgers. If nothing else, this bold move by the DC will result in some interesting dinner table conversation and the exploration of new meals.