Today we’re featuring a story from Bridget, a peta2er and Youth Advisory Board member, who … you guessed it, has a vegan dad! Awesome, right? Bridget’s dad is so into animal rights that he’s started a course at The University of North Carolina where he teaches. Wow! Check it out.
My father and I both went vegan in early 2010, and it was one of the best decisions we’ve ever made, and has changed our lives consequently. I had been vegetarian for six years, and my dad had been vegetarian for 35 years. And in the year and months that have passed since we have became vegan, my dad has done a lot of research and reading on the topic of animals in society and animal rights, and even developed a course at The University of North Carolina Greensboro (UNCG), focusing on the very matter.
I asked him to tell me how the course came about:
“In late 2009 I began looking into veganism; having been a vegetarian for 35 years already I figured it was time to consider total disengagement from the industries that produce animals and animal products for food. I already knew these industries are cruel to animals, and that they are wasteful of other natural resources, too.
In looking through some literature on the health benefits to humans of veganism I decided to look again at the animal rights literature—I had read Peter Singer’s Animal Liberation 30 years ago and still had my copy (in fact I gave it to Bridget!), but I had not kept up with the writing in this field. I was amazed to find, just in the UNCG library, rich sources of ideas and information about animal consciousness, cognition, emotion, creativity, intuition, and intelligence that I decided to create a new university-level course at UNCG so that students might have a chance to think of animals in new ways and, perhaps more importantly, to discover the assumptions, and prejudices, and short-sightedness (in my opinion, anyway) of the traditional ways of thinking about animals, and about human-animal relations.
My course is called Animals and Ourselves in Art and Performance, and it will start up in the fall. It is the first course of its kind at UNCG; no other professor in any department on campus is teaching any of this material (which I think is a shame). I hope that students will realize that animals are deserving of the same moral consideration as humans, and that we have much to learn from, and with, animals. In addition to thinking about the plight of living animals (wildlife, domestic animals, and animals used for food, experimentation, and entertainment) we will be looking at the way in which animals are used in the imaginative arts as symbols (the big bad wolf, curious George, Mickey Mouse, etc.) and how these uses of so-called “imaginary animals” are not necessarily good for animals in the long run.
My overall goal is to increase human empathy and respect for all animals and to recognize how we as humans are animals, too—not machines, and certainly not gods—and we need to live on the planet accordingly.”
Ever since my dad started working on this course, I’ve been so jealous of the students who will be taking it. However, I am so lucky to have all the readings and literature he looks at right in my house, and I’m getting even more passionate about animal rights because of this (something I didn’t think was possible.)