Student group protests, petitions EarthFest in push for all-vegan menu

Student group protests, petitions EarthFest in push for all-vegan menu

Student group protests, petitions EarthFest in push for all-vegan menu
April 25
12:41 2018

A group of students protested UNT’s EarthFest on Thursday, urging the university to make the event’s food an all-vegan affair to support sustainability.

Members of the UNT organization Mean Greens For Animals hold up signs with facts about veganism’s environmental impact and promote abstinence from eating animals. Kathryn Jennings

Despite UNT’s assertions of sustainability and low waste at the annual event, the group called Mean Greens For Animals is taking issue with the event’s non-vegan menu.

An online petition created by the group has about 100 signatures encouraging the university to move to a fully vegan menu for the event. Integrative Studies junior and Mean Greens For Animals President Carla Flores said the petition started before EarthFest in 2017.

UNT’s eighth consecutive year of EarthFest drew about 2,500 attendees. The event was intended to celebrate Earth Day — which took place on April 22 — and aims to educate and spread environmental responsibility.

Cheltzie Miller-Bailey, UNT campus-wide events coordinator said she began working in her position approximately six months ago and was unaware of the online petition before being asked about it by a North Texas Daily reporter.

Flores said she contacted Miller-Bailey before the event and received no response on where the meat on the menu would be coming from.

Mean Greens For Animals protested in front of the event’s food line April 19 with posters and remarks claiming the event was not sustainable.

“We are pushing for [EarthFest] to be completely plant-based food that they give out and even more that we are trying to make it a non-plastic event as well,” Flores said. “We are talking about the environment. That is what this is about. To be kind to the environment is to not eat animal flesh, to not eat animal secretions, to not use plastic.”

Flores said UNT was “not being green” because plastic was used in the food area, which was under a white tarp tent. She also said the event was “falsely advertising” a sustainable menu.

The menu consisted of regular and jalapeno bratwurst, vegan chili, roasted corn and honey sunflower ice cream. UNT Student Activities official food budget for EarthFest was $15,000, and another $5,000 was budgeted for other activity expenses.

IMG_5138IMG_5042IMG_5079IMG_5086Students pick up a free bottle at Earth Fest Thursday evening.IMG_5159
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Carl Johnson, an employee for Brew Dr. Kombucha, explains the different flavors they have to sample at EarthFest Thursday evening. Students were able to try whichever one they wanted.

Miller-Bailey said the bratwurst on the menu was locally sourced from Syracuse Sausage in Ponder, Texas.

Integrative studies sophomore Amy Li said she didn’t think the menu was correctly publicized by the university.

“They advertise like fruits and vegetables, and I didn’t really see any fruits or vegetables,” Li said. “I like the vegan option, but not everybody is for the vegan option.”

Kinesiology junior Jorge Guerrero said he feels EarthFest should not be all-vegan but does think there should be more awareness of the vegan lifestyle and sustainability.

“There are a lot of people and a lot of food to have,” Guerrero said. “At least having the vegan option is kind of cool. There could be more, there could be less, but I think it’s good.”

Miller-Bailey said although UNT Student Activities does listen to advocacy practices from students and organizations, that does not mean it will change its events for a singular group.

IMG_5553IMG_5666IMG_5631IMG_5540Students receive free Huberts Lemonade at Earth Fest Thursday evening.IMG_5400
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Scraps were laid out on a table for students to create keychains or hanging wall art. This was all a part of SCRAP Denton's table at EarthFest Thursday evening.

“We definitely want to make EarthFest as sustainable as possible, like that is our goal,” Miller-Bailey said. “But at the same time, we have to be considerate of the entire UNT student body. In addition, we have to consider our budget … we want to offer the best event possible, but in order to offer food but also activities and educational opportunities and materials … having an all-vegan menu is not fiscally possible at this point.”

EarthFest began in 2010 and has two major UNT partners: UNT Dining Services and the Office of Sustainability. Between 25 to 30 different on- and off-campus organizations participated in EarthFest in spring 2018.

Featured Image: The Library Mall was filled with students, faculty and staff Thursday evening during Earth Fest. Tables were set up throughout the area with interactive activities, information and food. Kathryn Jennings

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Jacqueline Guerrero

Jacqueline Guerrero

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2 Comments

  1. GC
    GC April 25, 14:44

    Meat production is not a sustainable practice. Miller-Bailey’s considerations are merely a way to hold popularity to what is a currently accepted practice by the majority for the sake of making profit. She on behalf of UNT through Earthfest are not being true to their goal of educating and promoting environmental responsibility.

    Reply to this comment
  2. yogachick
    yogachick April 26, 09:20

    An Earth Day Event that serves animal products is a travesty and makes a mockery out of the day. They should use some creativity and figure out how to offer all vegan food like most legitimate Earth Day events do! Kudos to the students who questioned the insanity of an Earth Day event that serves animal products!

    Reply to this comment

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