Category Archives: food

Upcoming Food, Family, and Justice Conference

I’m excited to be presenting “Unjust Social Structures and Plant-Based Caregiving for Kids” with my co-author, Jeremy Fisher, at the upcoming “Food, Family, and Justice” conference June 21-23, 2024.

Even more exciting for me, though, are the amazing presenters from around the world who are slated to share about a whole bunch of fascinating, important, related topics! I’ve got my eye on multiple sessions by folks whose work I’ve read and enjoyed, but who I’ve never had the good fortune to meet before.

This conference will be a hybrid of remote and in-person presentations at John Cabot University in Rome, Italy. My heartfelt gratitude to the organizers and sponsor (the Society for Applied Philosophy) for pursuing the hybrid format, which makes participation possible for those of us who are minimizing travel for environmental, health, family, financial, or other reasons!

Drop Off Locations for Free Food Scrap Composting in Chicago!

Food waste makes up about 22% of municipal solid waste in America. When this organic material is sent to landfills, it produces methane, a very potent greenhouse gas. Composting food scraps avoids that and also creates a nutrient-rich soil amendment that can help manage stormwater, prevent erosion, and improve plant and soil health. Plus, composting creates more jobs and revenue than landfilling or incinerating garbage!

Chicago residents can now, for the first time, at no charge, drop off their food scraps at one of 15 sites that are open 7:00-7:00 daily.

To get started, check out the city’s food scrap drop off website to watch a short instructional video and find your nearest drop off site on the map, and sign up to receive updates about the program and show that Chicagoans support the composting of food scraps.

ONLY food scraps can go in the compost bins. NO BAGS, not even ones labeled ‘compostable’ can go into the compost bins – but there will be a regular black bin for bags and other trash at each site. Preventing contamination is key to the success of any composting program! 

I recommend storing food scraps in the freezer to avoid attracting bugs or generating smells – as an added bonus, this makes storing and taking out your regular trash easier and less yucky!

Upcoming Talk: “Justice in the Cafeteria”

On September 14th, I’ll be giving a talk with my co-author, Jeremy Fischer, at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario called “Justice in the Cafeteria.” Here’s the abstract:

School meal reform efforts generally center around health, financial accessibility, and environmental sustainability, all of which are important. However, key ethical and political aspects of school meal programs have not received adequate attention in public discussion. We argue that whether school meal programs provide animal-based foods is a matter of justice for kids and for the society in which they live. Our child-centered arguments against providing such foods offer animal advocates and others who have a stake in the school meal debates a motivationally potent resource for their advocacy—without presupposing any particular view about our duties to animals.

Since COVID isn’t over, I’m doing what I can to minimize the risks of the trip for everyone concerned, but at the same time, I’m looking forward to a bit of a philosophy road trip, spending some time in Canada, and the chance to meet some friends from the APPLE reading group in person!

“Creating Carnists”

Jeremy Fischer and I have once again teamed up to co-write a paper, “Creating Carnists,” which is now forthcoming in Philosophers’ Imprint!

We’re so happy to have placed our second academic collaboration in another open access journal so that money won’t be a barrier for anyone who wants to read it. I’ll paste the abstract below, and if it sparks your interest, there’s no need to wait until the final, copy-edited version is published – feel free to take a look at our penultimate draft.

Abstract: We argue that individual and institutional caregivers have a defeasible moral duty to provide dependent children with plant-based diets and related education. Notably, our three arguments for this claim do not presuppose any general duty of veganism. Instead, they are grounded in widely shared intuitions about children’s interests and caregivers’ responsibilities, as well as recent empirical research relevant to children’s moral development, autonomy development, and physical health. Together, these arguments constitute a strong cumulative case against inculcating in children the dietary practice of regularly eating meat (and other animal products)—a practice we call “carnism.”

Book recommendation: Bird Flu, by Michael Greger

I started reading Bird Flu: A Virus of Our Own Hatching for reasons that had nothing to do with COVID-19. But may I say that it could not be any more relevant to our lives at this particular time?

Dr. Michael Greger does a wonderful job of explaining the science of viruses in general, the history of pandemics (and our political/economic/public health/media responses to them), and the steps that we would need to take to reduce the terrible dangers that pandemic influenza poses to human life, health, economics, national security, and so on. His writing is clear, engaging, and accessible, while being grounded in meticulous research and including copious citations from all sorts of relevant experts around the world.

No joke: this is not good bedtime reading, but it is a great read!

It looks like the full text was available for free on the internet for some time, but that it is temporarily unavailable because Dr. Greger is updating it with new findings about COVID-19 for a new edition, so try checking back to or later to see more about that.

Book recommendation: Zoopolis, by Sue Donaldson & Will Kymlicka

I’ve always loved animals, but I don’t always see myself in other people’s vision of what it means to be an animal lover. For instance, I don’t keep pets, and lots of people would expect an animal lover to do so. However, I am a vegan, which might be (and I think should be, but often isn’t) expected of people who self-identify as animal lovers. Plus, I generally love learning about animals more than I love interacting with them, but I do find it deeply painful when I witness harm to animals, even in fiction. And I’m seriously committed to environmentalism, which many people think means choosing what is good for whole species and ecosystems, even if and when that means killing or otherwise harming various individual animals.

I suspect there are a lot of other people out there who love animals in some sense, but that maybe don’t fit into stereotypical ideas about what it means to be an animal lover.

For an awesome book that challenges all of us to rethink what it means to stand in an ethically good relationship to non-human animals, I strongly recommend Sue Donaldson and Will Kymlicka’s Zoopolis. They don’t frame their book in terms of being by or for animal lovers, (though their work clearly expresses love for animals, along with many more intellectual virtues). Instead, they make a powerful, extended argument that existing academic and activist work regarding animal ethics is limited in key ways that can be overcome by shifting to a political model of human/non-human animal engagement. Here’s some high praise from any philosopher: their insights and arguments really changed my mind about a lot of things!

And (bonus!) this is among the most engaging and accessible books in academic philosophy that I’ve had the pleasure to read. It is one of those unicorns that falls into both the “for fun” and “for work” categories that I often use to mentally sort books. Seriously, check it out.

Northwestern University Society for the Theory of Ethics and Politics (NUSTEP)

I want to express my appreciation to the organizers of NUSTEP for inviting me to serve as commentator at this year’s conference; I had a really good time. The highlight for me was Nomy Arpaly’s talk about “good old-fashioned benevolence,” which was an excellent model of how to make precise and rigorous argument using well-crafted examples but without using any jargon, while expressing a great sense of humor, all at the same time!

Of course, some nice walks along Lake Michigan and good local food were also very welcome. Regarding food in Evanston, Found Kitchen deserves a special mention – the many dishes I tried were all delicious, the space had a great atmosphere, and the people involved enact a worthy social mission of hiring and training people coming out of homelessness.

Vegetarian Food in Portugal and Spain

One of the things I like most about traveling is tasting new foods and learning about other cultures through their food-related practices. Being a vegetarian can complicate this a bit, but I had no trouble finding plenty of delicious vegetarian food at reasonable prices everywhere I went in the Iberian peninsula!

Vegetarian or not, there is lots to enjoy in the food culture of Portugal and Spain. Since I do my best writing early in the day, I like the practice of eating meals later (than most Americans do). I also enjoy being in a restaurant where the assumption is that you want to take the time to enjoy your food, rather than be rushed or interrupted regularly. In my experience, Portugese and Spanish people take a lot of pride in their cuisine, and are pleased to bond with others by sharing it!

In case you are interested in some recommendations, here are a sampling, in no particular order:

Lisbon, Portugal: Lisbon has tons of excellent and inexpensive food, and since almost everyone can and is willing to speak some English, knowing little to no Portugese won’t be an obstacle to a happy belly. Consider trying: Jardim do Sentidos, The Green Room, Taste of Lisboa (a food tour: I recommend the one at Campo de Ourique), Cruzes Credo, Pois Cafe, La Creperie da Ribeira, Santini, Primo Basilico, Casa Nepalesa, Time Out’s Mercado de Ribeira, Queijaria Nacional, and/or Restaurante Oasis. There were so many places I wanted to try that after five weeks in Lisbon, I still had only made it about halfway through my list!

Guimaraes, Portugal: I wasn’t in Guimaraes for long, but Cor de Tangerina was so good that I went there multiple times.

Madrid, Spain: There seem to be a lot more vegetarian and vegetarian-friendly food options in Madrid than when I visited a friend there in 2007. Some of my favorites include: Yerbabuena,  Restaurantes Vegetarianos ArtemisaGuaranga Transcendental FoodMercado de San Miguel, Indian Aroma, El Estragon Vegetariano, and/or Phuket.