Arts

The U of O Animal Rights Club screened the film Sea of Life. Photo: Oceanic Productions.

Sea of Life film screening raises awareness of problems with commercial fishing

A new club on campus, the University of Ottawa Animal Rights Association, is raising awareness of the impact of eating animal products, through documentary screenings and other means of disseminating information.

The club held a screening of Sea of Life on Thursday, March 22, which discussed the impacts of commercial fishing on ocean life, hoping to raise awareness about the commercial fishing industry and its effects on our planet.

“What we aim to do is to educate the student body and faculty that animals aren’t ours to use in fashion, entertainment, agriculture, or for research purposes, so that’s the mandate of our club. We believe that animals aren’t ours to be used in any of those industries,” said club founder and president Autumn Jordan, a third-year biology student. “We want to educate the student body and faculty about that, and help them transition to a cruelty-free lifestyle.”  

Jordan said the group isn’t looking to confront people on their eating habits, or shame anyone—they are simply promoting an alternative way of living. “I really like having events where I’m talking to students to get what they think and answer any of their questions,” Jordan said. “One of my favourite events, we did a Valentine’s Day event, so obviously about the dairy industry, and everyone was like, oh my god you can make chocolate without dairy in it, what’s in it, and so it’s fun to say, ‘well of course you can.’”

The group is also working to dispel some of the common myths about veganism, namely that it is expensive, elitist, or can lead to health problems.  

“We want students to realize that it can be accessible. Obviously, we’re all students in the club, and most of us are vegetarian or vegan, so it can be done,” Jordan said. “I think it’s a really good point to drive across that it can be affordable.”

The club has a few long-term goals they want to achieve. Jordan is hoping to see more vegan options in the dining hall, which she said have slowly disappeared over time.

“When I came to campus, it was the first year of the new dining hall, and they promised a vegetarian and vegan station, and over the course of my first year, slowly all the vegan and vegetarian options are getting taken away and replaced with meat,” she said. “I want to sit down with the dining hall and be like, hey this is important, it’s not hard to instate vegan options in the caf and students want this.”

Jordan is also hoping to challenge the mandatory dissection policy in the biology department, making dissections optional, so that students can refuse to do them for personal reasons.

For more information and to find ways to get involved, check out the University of Ottawa Animal Rights Association Facebook page.