A world without bacon may just be one we don’t want to live in, but Michael J. Sorrell, president of Paul Quinn College in Texas, couldn’t care less. In an announcement on the college's website this week, he banned pork and all pork-related products from his campus in an effort to steer his student body into more mindful food choices.
In an interview with Inside Higher Ed, Sorrell explained, “When you come to college, you come to be educated. We thought we could do more in the area of promoting healthy lifestyle choices and healthy eating habits.”
Banning pork is the latest in a series of health-conscious moves by Sorrell since his arrival at the school five years ago. He’s already limited the amount of fast food and sugary food options available on campus and added a menu that’s heavy on salads. After the football program was cut, Sorrell turned the field into an organic vegetable garden, which donates its crops to those in need and uses the surplus in the school’s cafeteria.
Before Sorrell’s arrival, Paul Quinn's menu used to be representative of other mostly black colleges that service low-income minority students. “There was a proliferation of ranch dressing on everything. I mean, it just was typical choices that you would see made by folks who weren’t creative enough to manage the economic constraints with the need to create healthy options. I mean, we were no different than many other small colleges that service students from underrepresented communities.”
Though the ban on pork was met with applause by students, others don’t find much merit in Sorrell’s beliefs that “the other white meat” is inherently unhealthy. According to Ceci Snyder, a registered dietician and the spokeswoman for the National Pork Board, pork tenderloin has the same amount of fat as skinless chicken breast. “You can cook any meat incorrectly and add fat and salt.”
Nonetheless, Sorrell is sticking to his guns. “The reality of it is, it’s not as big of a deal as people make it out to be. You can live without pork. I think they’ll survive.”
Is a ban on pork taking health initiatives too far, or is Sorrell setting up a new and better model for higher education?