by Liz Bodenman ’20
In the first semester of my time at Uni Bremen, I had the privilege of utilizing funds granted to me through the Dickinson German department’s Kurth-Voigt Research Prize. Securing the grant required me to formulate a viable research question and plan with which to explore possible answers. My question, though still unanswered, pertains to the vegan and vegetarian movements in Bremen and Germany as a whole. How are these two movements so successful in a country that hails meat and dairy in nearly all its traditional cuisines? Though I was not going to get a satisfying answer during the few months I lived in Bremen, I was able to expand my mind through attending two exciting events, funded by Kurth-Voigt.
First I was able to participate in a three day sustainability conference in Heidelberg, where I attended several different workshops pertaining to food consciousness and the environment, where themes on vegan/vegetarianism echoed throughout. During the conference every participant took part in one block workshop where they worked in groups to formulate a project. My block workshop pertained to the world of ‘start-ups,’ taking us through all the steps necessary to have a successful start-up, then having us present a start-up of our own creation at the closing ceremony. The conference was very international, but getting the German perspective on sustainability proved invaluable for the ways in which I would view German vegan and vegetarian organizations/companies. Then to get an idea of which companies and organizations existed in Germany, I did a bit of digging and found another event useful in exploring my question.
This next event was a day-long ‘Vegginale: Ecological Fair’ in Frankfurt. These Vegginale Fairs are held throughout the year in the major cities across Germany, featuring different national and international organizations and companies relating to sustainability. There is a specific emphasis on veganism and animal rights at these conferences, as vegan/vegetarian activists typically go hand-in-hand with purely environmental activists. Stands were occupied by everything from clean energy firms to a couple selling their homemade vegan honey. The diversity of the content at Veggienale was a good representation of how many ways Germans choose to express care for sustainability and equal rights for all beings.
If I had decided to continue my research project and use the remainder of my grant funds, I could have gone on a few more trips in which to learn about and observe the vegan/vegetarian movements in Germany. My curiosity on the topic remains open, and I plan on exploring it to some extent during my final two years at Dickinson. The Kurth-Voigt is a wonderful opportunity for Dickinson students of German who are curious about an aspect of German life, society or culture and wish to explore it further.