Numerous protests broke out on Pitt’s campus in the first week of the spring semester as a part of the Meat for Me movement. Indignant vegetarians, fed up with people telling them what they can or cannot do, are determined to reclaim their constitutional right.
“Just because I’m a vegetarian doesn’t mean that I can’t eat meat,” said Nancy Barometer, a Pitt junior and one of the organizers of the protests. “I’m sick of hearing people tell me I can’t do this or do that just because I belong to a minority group. This grave social injustice has to stop, and it has to stop now.”
The sentiment is not new. May protesters said that they had been suffering from discrimination for quite some time. The upcoming Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday might have inspired the public outrage, but it was Christmas break that drove them to the edge.
“The scenario is familiar to all of us,” said Ashton McPenzeldon, a sophomore history major at Pitt. “It’s Christmas dinner with all the hams and turkeys but you’re told that you can’t have those because you’re different. I can’t help but think of the segregation a century ago—you know, all the white-only bathrooms, cafes, bus stops, and all because those people were different. It’s high time to recognize that vegetarians have the right to eat meat, folks. It’s a human rights issue.”
“Their claim may sound paradoxical or illogical, but it is valid nonetheless,” commented Stanly Mencey, a Ninth Amendment scholar at Harvard. He called the claim fully constitutional, adding that the Constitution says nothing about logic. Nobody should be denied a right solely because of his or her beliefs, he said, “and failure to grant the protesters their rights in a timely manner will cast modern democracy in a bad light.”
Although the protests were local, they received some national attention. Such early signs of success have already inspired some movements, such as the Digital Amish and Atheists for God, to take their indignation to the streets, all unified under a slogan “Yes, we can!”
But, for Barometer, their fight has just begun. Their next planned move is to eat meat at diners and restaurants, dressed in clothes with vegetarian insignia and Meat for Me emblems. “It’ll take a long time to drive the message home,” Barometer said. “But it’s worth it.”