Animal Report: Vegan RSO speaks up for animals

By Elizabeth Biernacki, Staff Reporter

The food industry produced 52 billion pounds of meat in 2017, slaughtered 9 billion chickens, 32.2 million cattle, 241.7 million turkeys, 2.2 million sheep, and 121 million hogs according to the North American Meat Institute (NAMI).

Nathan Edwards, a senior at SIU and president of the RSO Students for the Voiceless, started the group to support veganism and animal rights.

“[‘Students for the Voiceless’] main purpose is to spread awareness that animals are sentient beings and do not want to die so we should respect their rights to life,” David Stroz, a junior at SIU and vice president of the RSO, said.


Stroz  said the RSO is a great way for like minded people to come together and do community based things like a potluck or field trip to an animal sanctuary.

Cade Bursell, a professor in cinema and photography and faculty advisor of the RSO, said, “I think the group itself talks about what’s important to focus on.”

 Bursell is a vegan and said it’s important to be aware of what we eat, but to also look at the industry and how destructive factory farming is for environmental reasons.

“One of the things we are equal to animals in is our ability to suffer,” Edwards said.

Edwards brought up  the definition of “humane” and how there is no way to humanely kill an animal that is going to be consumed by people.

“By definition, humane means to show compassion and benevolence. I don’t think there’s a compassionate way to exploit or kill someone,” Edwards said.

With nearly 60 billion animals each year being slaughtered and eaten by Americans, Edwards said that there is no other place in the world where this many sentient beings are experiencing this level of suffering.


“These animals are just consistently, forcefully impregnated, then having their children taken away from them over and over again up until the point they’re sent to a slaughter house, hung upside down and have their throats slit,” Edwards said.

On top of this, Edwards said producing livestock is very detrimental to the environment. A study done by Oxford showed 83% of farmland is used just for producing food for livestock despite livestock only providing 18% of our calories.

“If we stopped farming for animals we would reduce the amount of land we are using by 75%,” Edwards said.

According to Edwards farming for animals along with other factors, are the leading cause of rainforest destruction, ocean dead zones, water use, land use and extinction.

“It causes more greenhouse gas emissions than the entire transportation unit of the entire world. All trains, planes, cars, buses, boats combined,” Edwards said.

Stroz said that he doesn’t believe there needs to be change within the food system since there are vegan options widely available in every grocery store making meat unnecessary.

“There’s no micro or macronutrient inside of animals or flesh, or their secretions that they put out that we need to consume so everyone can be entirely healthy on a plant based diet,” Edwards said.

Bursell said that she, and others, are behind Edwards and support his cause of slowly moving towards a plant based diet that will help end the suffering on the planet as well as improve the environment.

“You have to have community, you can’t do it alone, and [Edwards] does have community, he has an organization behind him,” Bursell said.


Staff reporter Elizabeth Biernacki can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter at @EBiernacki_619.

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