The Rice Wildlife Conservation Corps (RWCC) - a new Rice student organization that promotes the development of wildlife conservation enthusiasts - partnered with peta2, the youth version of People for Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), to bring their "Right Side of History" exhibit to campus on Monday, February 22nd. "The Right Side of History" is a traveling exhibit that shows the side by side comparison of the environmental impacts of a meat-intensive omnivore diet vs. a vegan diet by using inflatable pillars. A large 25 ft tall inflatable pillar showed the resources needed to produce just a single ⅓ lb hamburger patty. A significantly smaller inflatable pillar showed the resources needed to produce the caloric equivalent of a plate full of spaghetti with tomato sauce.
Animal agriculture contributes to species extinction in many ways. In addition to habitat destruction caused by clearing forests and converting land to grow feed crops and for animal grazing, predators and "competition" species are frequently targeted and hunted because of a perceived threat to livestock profits. The widespread use of pesticides, herbicides and chemical fertilizers used in the production of feed crops often interferes with the reproductive systems of animals and poison waterways. Not only is animal agriculture the leading cause of species extinction, ocean dead zones, water pollution, and habitat destruction, but also livestock and their byproducts account for 51% of all worldwide greenhouse gas emissions, 20%-33% of all freshwater consumption, and 45% of Earth’s land usage.
“One of our goals this year is to focus the attention of the Rice community on the environmental impacts of the food that we eat, especially impacts on endangered species,” said Veronica Johnson, President of the RWCC. “A student project a few years ago showed that Rice students consume nearly 5 times the global average of meat each year. I became a vegan this past November 1st on World Vegan Day after watching the documentary Cowspiracy on Netflix. I feel like I like food more as a result. I feel better, and it’s a lot easier than I expected.”
Students interested in becoming involved in the RWCC can join the RWCC Facebook group.