IU-Bloomington seeks to “offer leadership in creative solutions for 21st-century problems” and “strives to ... maintain ... humane environments,” according to IU's published mission statement. On its Core Values page IU says it is “committed to the highest standards of ethical conduct” and “the members of the Indiana University community are dedicated to advancing respect for the dignity of others, sustainability and the application of knowledge...to advance the quality of life.”
Residential Programs and Services Dining maintains a page called “Go Green,” at the very top of which sits the word “Sustainability.” Lower down the page, RPS describes how it has accepted “The Real Food Challenge,” which, among other things, is a commitment to procure more humane and ecologically sound food. Further down the page RPS points out that eating a plant-based diet is “healthier ... for our bodies and for the planet.”
Despite all this rhetoric, IU still serves hamburgers, pepperoni pizza and countless other animal food products — through RPS Dining, Athletics Dining and Sodexo — that contribute significantly to the 21st-century problems of anthropogenic climate change, large-scale exploitation of other animal species and diet-related health problems.
As recently as 2016, none of the food served on campus qualified as humane and less than one percent qualified as ecologically sound, according to a report by IU geography students assessing IU’s compliance with the Real Food Challenge criteria. Nearly a quarter of the money spent on food on campus went to food sourced from concentrated animal feeding operations.
The impact from abandoning animal food products on campus would not be negligible. More than 43,000 students attend IUB. In 2014-2015, IU spent more than $18 million on food. It’s been estimated that food-related emissions could be reduced by as much as 70 percent if everyone on the planet stopped eating animal food products. While IU cannot control what the rest of the world does, it can at least do its part and part with unethical and unsustainable food on campus.
J.D. Candidate, Class of 2019
Indiana University Maurer School of Law
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