First-of-Its-Kind UCSB Class Examines Intersection of Food, Philosophy, and Veganism

Soon after Professor Renan Larue joined UCSB’s French department and began teaching a freshman seminar on veganism, he found himself petitioning the university to double the seats in his class, which was full within a few days. “My point was to give students [an] idea of how rich veganism is,” explained Larue.

His one-unit class, Introduction to Vegan Studies, meets Thursday nights to explore the intersection between vegetarian and vegan food choices and philosophy, touching on politics, economics, religion, and psychology. It’s the first of its kind in the county, but a longtime “dream” for Larue, who’s been studying the issue in French universities and at the University of Montreal for the past decade.

“In France it was a little bit ridiculous,” said French-born Larue of his research, which he calls better received in the United States. “It shows something is happening in the U.S. and California,” he said, referencing the nation’s increased awareness of “philosophical and economic problems in food topics.” His latest book, Le végétarisme et ses ennemis (which translates to Vegetarianism and Its Enemies) traces the ethical debate over eating animals back to the Pythagoreans and Stoics.

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What Vegans Study

What Vegans Study