The trend of going green has been growing exponentially in recent years and UCD students have well endorsed the cause. Starting at the beginning of September 2019, the university has welcomed the Vegetarianism Awareness Campaign whose intent is to make students more sensible to the impact a small change in our diet can bring to ourselves and the planet.
The campaign is all about raising awareness about the consequences of reducing meat consumption and dairy products while embracing a conscious and sustainable lifestyle. It is carried out primarily via their Facebook page where several posts have been constantly uploaded. However, the number of people following the page (179) is still relatively small compared to the student presence on campus.
One of the possible causes can be linked to the content of these posts that do not fully engage the public. Despite being quite impactful in delivering its message, there is a degree of ambivalence in the terms used. Going vegetarian and going vegan are both sustainable and ethical choices but there is a strong difference in that those adhering to the latter lifestyle do not consume any animal-derived products. In order to avoid confusion in students approaching these new habits, the campaign should change its name into one encompassing both vegetarianism and veganism.
Another aspect that can be improved concerns the style of the posts promoted. The underlying claim advanced is that the campaign is not forcing students to become vegan or vegetarian, but the tone is sometimes strong. Indeed, in some posts the act of eating meat is demonised since it is associated with cruelty and guilt. Particularly, the campaign largely plays on the pain felt by animals through cartoon images to persuade possible vegetarians and vegans. What is effective though is that the irony used in some of the comic strips makes the viewer think about how animals are mistreated in intensive livestock farming.
The effectiveness of the campaign does not just lie in using satire to highlight the ethical implications of going green. Promoting initiatives, tips to support this movement, and articles to inform about the benefits gained is also a smart tactic to attract newcomers and spreading awareness. However, to get the most resonance throughout UCD the campaign needs more active student participation and direct involvement.
Alessia Mennitto – Reporter