Project Title Co-leaders

Project Title:
Eating as an Act of Justice Working Group, 2011-2012
Co-leaders: Matt Halteman (Philosophy)
Steve McMullen (Economics)
Chris Smit (CAS)
Matt Bonzo (Philosophy, Cornerstone University)
Gail Heffner (Director of Community Engagement)
Michele Lloyd Page (Dean of Multicultural Affairs; Sociology)
Kenneth Piers (Chemistry)
Steven Putt (Hekman Library; Library Science)
Aubrey Sykes (Engineering)
David Warners (Biology)
Adam Wolpa (Art)
We who live in the developed world normally do not think of eating as an act justice; instead, we
have grown used to having year-round access to cheap, abundant, and often globally-sourced
food. Moreover we think of our choice of which foods to eat as an intensely private and personal
matter guided by our likes and dislikes. In our work together this year, we concentrated on five
distinct, but related, themes.
First we investigated eating as a matter of justice to our own bodies. In Scripture we read that
our bodies are “temples of the Holy Spirit”. Yet the modern developed-world diet does little to
honor our bodies as such. There is now substantial evidence that what has been called the
“diseases of affluence” – coronary heart disease, various forms of cancer, diabetes, obesity and
certain diseases of the digestive tract – are strongly correlated with the consumption of diets that
are founded on animal-based products and rich in processed foods. Conversely, diets that are rich
in plant-based whole food products are strongly correlated with substantially reduced incidence
of such diseases. At a time when ever-increasing costs of healthcare are of great concern, such
considerations could have profound implications for modern society.
Second, we studied eating as an act of justice in relation toward the food animals in our
modern agricultural system. The industrialization of agriculture in the last few decades, featuring
ever increasing efficiency, specialization, and concentration of operations, has reduced the lives
of the industrial commodities we used to call animals to one of substantial misery. This is largely
true whether we consider the conditions in which beef or dairy cattle live, market or farrowing
hogs are produced, broiler or laying chickens are generated, market turkeys are raised, and even
how farmed-fish are raised in the modern industrial operation. We investigated not only the
conditions in which these animals are raised but also the conditions in which they are harvested
in the modern industrial slaughter-house. One of the central questions in this consideration was
“Are these conditions something like what the biblical concept of ‘having dominion’ had in mind
when it was rendered in Gen. 1?
Third, we explored eating as an act of justice toward the biophysical environment of the
planet which provides the foundation that supports all forms of life on earth. There was a time
when the small family farm, even one that was considerably mechanized, placed a rather small
“pollution burden” on the earth - crops were rotated, animal wastes were returned to the land,
and water demands were largely met be natural rainfall. Most animals lived in “free-range’
condition when weather conditions allowed and were provided shelter when weather was
inclement. But modern agricultural operations have become one of the largest polluters of the air,
land, and surface and ground-water in our society. Industrial agriculture makes intensive use of
synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides. Recently, bioengineering has resulted in the
introduction of genetically modified grains/animals. Animals are regularly fed growth hormones
and dosed with antibiotics to control disease. Over 50% of the productive US agricultural land is
now irrigated, placing severe stress on underground aquifers – especially the deep aquifers which
are replenished only slowly. We investigated the factors that have given rise to such a system of
agriculture and explore ways in which the environmental burden of food production might be
Fourth, we investigated eating as an act of justice toward civilization as a whole. As it is
presently structured, modern agriculture is not sustainable. Industrial farming depends on (nonrenewable) fossil fuels - mainly oil and natural gas - as a crucial input for machines and chemical
materiel. It has been said that modern agriculture “turns fossil fuel calories into food calories”.
Seventy percent of the productive land in the US is growing crops that are fed to animals. If all
6.8 billion people on the planet consumed a diet like that which is consumed in the developed
world, especially the USA, it seems highly unlikely that we would be able to produce enough
food to feed the entire population an adequate diet, not to mention the 2-or 3 billion more people
that are expected in the next 40 years. As food stresses increase, it seems likely that the poor of
the earth will be impacted most severely. It has been suggested that land devoted to producing
foods that could be eaten by humans directly, could support about five times as many people as
the same area of land devoted to growing food for animals. Our study explored the question of
what a globally sustainable agricultural/food system might look like.
Fifth, the study of the above four themes was undertaken in the context of a consideration of
biblical/ethical/theological considerations regarding, our stewardship of the earth and all of the
other creatures with whom we share the earth especially as these bear on food production.
Therefore we studied relevant scriptures as well as ethical and theological writings that bear on
the subject.
The Working Group was successful on three fronts.
First, we succeeded in staying on task in moving through a wide-ranging syllabus, covering
topics as diverse as food and cultural identity; the theology of food; animals and religion; animal
sentience; industrial agriculture and its implications for the environment, global development,
food security, and animal welfare; plant-based nutrition; and competing views on ethical dietary
practices. One of the most exciting features of the discussion was a burgeoning consensus as our
work progressed on the necessity of adopting a holistic perspective on the importance of our
food choices for the flourishing of creation—a perspective that acknowledges the many deep,
complex, and inevitable (if sometimes hidden) interconnections among these seemingly far-
flown topics. We were surprised to find, as a practical reminder of this necessity, that our subject
moved us to discuss theological, ethical, environmental, cultural, and nutritional concerns in
almost every meeting regardless of the topic slated for discussion.
Second, we succeeded in bringing together a diverse group of faculty and staff whose work
together on this topic is likely to bear fruit across the curriculum and in extra-curricular settings
too. Our diversity can be accounted for along a number of axes. For one thing, we came together
from a wide diversity of disciplines: art, biology, chemistry, community engagement,
communications, economics, engineering, multicultural affairs, philosophy, sociology, and
theology. For another thing, our participants represented a wide range of different kinds of life
experience outside the halls of academe. We counted among our participants, for instance, a
small-scale farmer, a disability activist, several animal rights advocates, a member of the West
Michigan Food Systems Council, a person doing healthful eating awareness work in AfricanAmerican church communities, and a research librarian. The upshot is that we cultivated a
community that can be expected not only to teach and write on this crucial issue across the
liberal arts and sciences, but also to take this work into unexpected places in the broader cultural
discussion: to the intersection of issues concerning food and, for instance, race, gender,
disability, differences of outlook and style between farmers and activists, and building
institutions that foment broader awareness of food justice issues (it wasn’t lost on us that having
a research librarian who is sensitive to these issues is an enormous asset to the college).
Third, we succeeded in making our work accessible and exciting to the broader communities of
Calvin College and West Michigan through a series of public lectures, workshops, and potlucks
that gave hundreds of students, faculty, and other interested parties the opportunity to engage
some of the nation’s leading voices in animal welfare advocacy, food justice activism, and
cognitive ethology. The following lectures may be accessed online:
Paul Shapiro, Senior Director of Farm Animal Protection for the Humane Society of the
United States (HSUS):
Wayne Pacelle, President and CEO of the HSUS:
Bryant Terry, author of Vegan Soul Kitchen and The Inspired Vegan:
Jonathan Balcombe, cognitive ethnologist and best-selling author of Pleasurable
Kingdom and Second Nature: The Inner Lives of Animals:
Frequently asked questions and the resources to pursue them:
Is there a single book that could get me up to speed on most of the big issues surrounding
the idea of eating as an act of justice?
• Jonathan Safran Foer, Eating Animals (2009)
• Peter Singer and Jim Mason, The Way We Eat: Why Our Food Choices Matter (2006)
• Tom Regan, Empty Cages: Facing the Challenges of Animal Rights (2004)
• Matthew Scully, Dominion: The Power of Man, The Suffering of Animals, and the Call to
Mercy (2002)
• Barbara Kingsolver, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle
The Pew Commission on Industrial Farm Animal Production, Putting Meat on the Table:
Industrial Farm Animal Production in America, (2008)
Is there good reason to think that compassion for animals should be an important issue for
• Stephen H. Webb, Good Eating (2001)
• Grummet and Muers, Theology on the Menu (2011)
• Andrew Linzey, (1) Animal Gospel (1998) and (2) Animal Theology (1994)
• Spalde & Strindlund, Compassion for Animals as Christian Spirituality: Every Creature
a Word of God (2008)
• Matthew Scully, Dominion (2002)
• Richard H. Schwartz, Judaism and Vegetarianism (2001)
• Robert Wennberg, God, Humans, and Animals: An Invitation to Enlarge Our Moral
Universe (2006)
• Norman Wirzba, Food and Faith: A Theology of Eating (2011)
• Matthew C. Halteman, Compassionate Eating as Care of Creation (2008)
Is it plausible to believe that non-human animals are capable of thinking, feeling, and
valuing their lives?
• Jonathan Balcombe, Second Nature: The Inner Lives of Animals (2010); and Pleasurable
Kingdom: Animals and the Nature of Feeling Good (2007)
• Marc Bekoff, The Emotional Lives of Animals (2007)
• Jeffrey Moussaieff Mason, (1) When Elephants Weep: The Emotional Lives of Animals
(1996); and (2) The Pig Who Sang to the Moon: The Emotional World of Farm Animals
• Steven M. Wise, (1) Rattling the Cage: Toward Legal Rights for Animals (2001); and (2)
Drawing the Line: Science and the Case for Animal Rights (2003)
How does this animal justice stuff tie in with our strivings for human social justice?
• Carol J. Adams, The Sexual Politics of Meat (1990)
• Breeze Harper, Sistah Vegan: Black Female Vegans Speak on Food, Identity, Health, and
Society (2011)
• Bryant Terry, The Inspired Vegan (2012)
• Tracye Lynn McQuirter, By Any Greens Necessary: A Revolutionary Guide for Black
Women Who Want to Eat Great, Get Healthy, Lose Weight, and Look Phat (2010)
• World Society for the Protection of Animals, Industrial Animal Agriculture: Part of the
Poverty Problem (
• John Robbins, The Food Revolution: How Your Diet Can Help Save Your Life and Our
World (2001)
What is life on a concentrated animal feeding operation really like for the animals?
• Jonathan Safran Foer, Eating Animals (2009)
Timothy Pachirat, Every Twelve Seconds: Industrialized Slaughter and the Politics of
Sight (2011)
Tom Regan, Empty Cages: Facing the Challenge of Animal Rights (2004)
Peter Singer, Animal Liberation (Reprinted, 2001)
How do concentrated animal feeding operations affect the environment?
• Michael Jacobsen, Six Arguments for a Greener Diet (2006)
• Andrew Kimbrell, The Fatal Harvest Reader: The Tragedy of Industrial Agriculture
• Michael Pollan, The Omnivore’s Dilemma (2006)
• John Robbins, The Food Revolution: How Your Diet Can Help Save Your Life and Our
World (2001)
• Gidon Eshel and Pamela Martin, “Diet, Energy, and Global Warming” (online at
• Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Livestock’s Long Shadow:
Environmental Issues and Options,
How does industrial agriculture affect the lives and livelihoods of the world’s poorest
• Doris Janzen Longacre, The More With Less Cookbook; Extending the Table
• John Robbins, The Food Revolution: How Your Diet Can Help Save Your Life and Our
World (2001); see “Reversing the Spread of Hunger”, 283-302.
• Peter Singer and Jim Mason, The Way We Eat: Why Our Food Choices Matter (2006);
see “Trade, Fair Trade, and Workers’ Rights”, 151-169.
• Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Livestock’s Long Shadow:
Environmental Issues and Options,
• World Society for the Protection of Animals, Industrial Animal Agriculture: Part of the
Poverty Problem, (2007)
Is a diet free of animal products really a healthy option for human beings?
• Dr. Joel Fuhrman, Eat to Live (2011)
• Dr. T. Colin Campbell, The China Study (2004)
• Michael Jacobsen, Six Arguments for a Greener Diet (2006)
• Howard Lyman, No More Bull: The Mad Cowboy Takes On America’s Worst Enemy:
Our Diet (2005)
• Dr. Kerrie K. Saunders, The Vegan Diet As Chronic Disease Prevention (2003)
• John Robbins, The Food Revolution: How Your Diet Can Help Save Your Life and Our
World (2001)
• Choose from many books by Dr. John McDougall; Dr. Dean Ornish; or Dr. Andrew Weil
If the moral, environmental, and nutritional drawbacks of our current eating habits are so
bad, why haven’t I heard about these problems before?
• Marion Nestle, Food Politics: How the Food Industry Influences Nutrition and Health
• T. Colin Campbell, The China Study (2004)
Aren’t animal rights activists generally violent, anti-social misanthropes?
• Tom Regan, Empty Cages: Facing the Challenge of Animal Rights (2004)
• Lee Hall, Capers in the Churchyard: Animal Rights Advocacy in the Age of Terror
Isn’t compassionate eating just a newfangled fad for self-righteous hippies and pretentious,
sentimental yuppies?
• Bonzo and Stevens, Wendell Berry and the Cultivation of Life: A Reader’s Guide (2008)
• Kaufman and Braun, Good News for All Creation: Vegetarianism as Christian
Stewardship (2004)
• Gandhi, The Story of My Experiments With Truth (Authorized American Edition, 1993)
• Richard Schwartz, Judaism and Vegetarianism (2001)
• Peter Singer and Jim Mason, The Way We Eat: Why Our Food Choices Matter (2006)
• Colin Spencer, Vegetarianism: A History (2002)
• Tristram Stewart, The Bloodless Revolution: A Cultural History of Vegetarianism Since
1600 (2006)
If I commit to eating lower on the food chain, do I have to resign myself to a life of steamed
• Carole Raymond, The Student’s Go Vegan Cookbook: Over 135 Quick, Easy, Cheap and
Tasty Vegan Recipes
• Bryant Terry, The Inspired Vegan,* Vegan Soul Kitchen,* and Grub
• Crescent Dragonwagon, The Passionate Vegetarian
• Mark Bittman, How to Cook Everything Vegetarian
• Tanya Barnard and Sarah Kramer, The Garden of Vegan
• Ann Gentry, The Real Food Daily Cookbook
• Roberta Kalechofsky, The Jewish Vegetarian Year Cookbook
• Terry Hope Romero, Viva La Vegan!
• Isa Chandra Moskowitz, Vegan With A Vengeance*
• Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero, (1) Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the
World; and (2) The Veganomicon and (3) Appetite for Reduction* (*These are our
• Lorna Sass, The Complete Vegetarian Kitchen
• Doris Janzen Longacre, The More With Less Cookbook
• Hockman-Wert and Lind, Simply in Season
Where can I find out how to become a more informed and compassionate consumer?
• Erik Marcus, The Ultimate Vegan Guide (2009)
Marion Nestle, What to Eat: An Aisle-by-Aisle Guide to Savvy Food Choices and Good
Eating (2006)
Ingrid Newkirk, Making Kind Choices: Everyday Ways to Enhance Your Life Through
Earth- and Animal-Friendly Living (2005)
Michael Pollan, In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto (2008)
Additional Resources, arranged topically.
Selected Philosophical Literature in the Ethics of Eating and Animal Ethics
1. Steve F. Sapontzis, ed., Food For Thought: The Debate Over Eating Meat, Prometheus,
2. Josephine Donovan and Carol J. Adams, The Feminist Care Tradition in Animal Ethics,
Columbia, 2007.
3. Carl Cohen, “A Critique of the Alleged Moral Basis of Vegetarianism”, in Food For
Thought, 152-166.
4. Mylan Engel, “The Immorality of Eating Meat”, in The Moral Life: An Introductory
Reader in Ethics and Literature, ed. Louis Pojman, Oxford, 2000, 856-890.
5. Nathan Nobis, “Carl Cohen’s ‘Kind’ Argument For Animal Rights and Against Human
Rights”, in Journal of Applied Philosophy, March 2004, vol. 21, no. 1, 43-59.
6. Tom Regan, The Case for Animal Rights (Updated Edition), California, 2004.
7. Roger Scruton, “The Conscientious Carnivore”, in Food For Thought, 81-91.
8. Peter Singer, Animal Liberation (Second Revised Edition), Ecco, 2002.
9. Richard Sorabji, Animal Minds & Human Morals: The Origins of the Western Debate,
Cornell, 1993.
10. Tzsachi Zamir, Ethics and the Beast: A Speciesist Argument for Animal Liberation,
Princeton, 2007.
Christian Perspectives on the Ethics of Eating
1. D. Grumett and R. Muers, Theology on the Menu: Asceticism, Meat and Christian Diet,
Routledge, 2010.
2. Stephen H. Webb, Good Eating, Brazos Press, 2001.
3. United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, “A Catholic Agenda for Action: Pursuing
a More Just Agricultural System” (
4. Norman Wirzba, Food and Faith: A Theology of Eating, Cambridge, 2011.
5. Matthew Halteman, “Living Toward the Peaceable Kingdom: Compassionate Eating as
Care of Creation”
Christian and Other Religious Perspectives on Animal Ethics
1. Lisa Kemmerer, Animals and World Religions, Oxford, 2012.
2. Kemmerer and Nocella, Call To Compassion: Religious Perspectives on Animal
Advocacy, Lantern, 2011.
3. Andrew Linzey, Why Animal Suffering Matters: Philosophy, Theology, and Practical
Ethics, Oxford University Press, 2009.
4. Andrew Linzey, Animal Theology, University of Illinois Press, 1994.
5. Stephen H. Webb, On God and Dogs: A Christian Theology of Compassion for Animals,
Oxford, 1998.
6. R. Wennberg, God, Humans, and Animals: An Invitation to Enlarge Our Moral Universe,
Eerdmans, 2003.
7. Andrew Linzey and Tom Regan, Animals and Christianity: A Book of Readings, Wipf &
Stock, 1990.
8. Charles Pinches and Jay McDaniel, eds, Good News for Animals?: Christian Approaches
to Animal Well-Being, Orbis, 1993.
Recent Popular Books on the Ethics of Eating
1. Jonathan Safran Foer, Eating Animals, Little Brown, 2009.
2. Barbara Kingsolver, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life, Harper Perennial,
3. Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson, The Face on Your Plate: The Truth About Food, Norton,
4. Michael Pollan, The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals, Penguin,
5. Michael Pollan, In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto, Penguin, 2008.
6. Peter Singer and Jim Mason, The Way We Eat: Why Our Food Choices Matter, Rodale,
Recent Popular Media on the Ethics of Eating
1. Scientific American, “The Greenhouse Hamburger: How Meat Contributes to Global
Warming” (
2. Jonathan Safran Foer, “Against Meat,” The New York Times, October 7, 2009
3. Bryan Walsh, “Getting Real About the High Price of Cheap Food,” Time Magazine,
August 21, 2009
4. Ezra Klein, “The Meat of the Problem,” The Washington Post, July 29, 2009
5. Jim Motavalli, “Meat: The Slavery of Our Time,” Foreign Policy, June 3, 2009
6. Mark Bittman, “Rethinking the Meat Guzzler,” New York Times, January 27, 2008
Development Reports
1. Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN, Livestock’s Long Shadow: Environmental
Issues and Options (
2. UN News Centre, “Rearing Cattle Produces More Greenhouse Gases than Driving Cars”
3. The Pew Commission on Industrial Farm Animal Production, “Putting Meat on the
Table: Industrial Farm Animal Production in America” (
4. Compassion in World Farming Trust, The Global Benefits of Eating Less Meat
5. World Society for the Protection of Animals, Industrial Animal Agriculture: Part of the
Poverty Problem (
Internet Resources, arranged topically
Animal Welfare and Sustainable Farming
Local Harvest
Polyface Farm (Joel Salatin)
Animal Rights
Tom Regan Animal Rights Archive
The Philosophy of Animal Rights
Organizations that Address
Food and Development Justice Issues
Compassion in World Farming Trust
Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN
National Catholic Rural Life Conference
World Society for the Protection of Animals
World Watch Institute
Animal Advocacy Organizations
Not One Sparrow
Christian Vegetarian Association
Farm Sanctuary
Mercy For Animals
Compassionate Consumers
Humane Society of the United States
Farm Kind
Vegetarian and Vegan Recipes
Vegan Yum Yum
Post Punk Kitchen
FatFree Vegan
Health and Nutrition Links
Physicians Committee For Responsible Medicine
Dr. Joel Fuhrman
The Cancer Project
Dr. McDougall’s Health and Medical Center