A perfect day is “the day we throw a big party with luscious, animal-free milk, cheese, yogurt, and ice cream,” according to the Perfect Day Foods website. While animal-free creamy goodness may sound odd to the uninitiated, for Adam Hamilton (Philosophy and Biochemistry, ’18), animal-free dairy alternatives are the future.
Hamilton is Boulder-born, raised by an electrical engineer and an international marketer with a penchant for nonprofit work. As a burgeoning philosopher, Hamilton chose Fort Lewis College, renowned for their engaging and dynamic philosophy curriculum. Little did he know that the Intro to Philosophy class he took his first year at FLC would change his life – and the lives of many animals – forever.
Guided by Justin McBrayer, professor of Philosophy, this small class of first-year students explores a spectrum of worldviews, epistemologies, and ethics. In the spirit of experiential learning, FLC Philosophy courses thrive on intimate discussions, pushing students to think critically and communicate thoughtfully. These discussions can be provocative as they consider ethics and morality in the context of the everyday.
“I think if there are no ethics or no morality, then there’s not really a point in doing much of anything,” says Hamilton.
For Hamilton, Intro to Philosophy opened his eyes to an awareness that the foods we put into our bodies have implications on our health, the environment, and animal welfare. As he navigated the idea of ethical eating, veganism seemed a natural path. But after much deliberation and reason – however misguided, he adds – Hamilton now considers himself “mostly vegetarian.”
"I would never go fishing or slaughter my own animals because I believe that animals feel pain. If something feels pain, then I think we should take it into moral consideration."
“I would never go fishing or slaughter my own animals because I believe that animals feel pain,” he says. “If something feels pain, then I think we should take it into moral consideration.”
For his sophomore year of college, Hamilton transferred to the University of Hawai’i Manoā, which has a student population of roughly 18,000 – the same size as the city of Durango. He took another Philosophy course, and though the class size was the same and the lecture topics similar, the experience was a far cry from the rousing discussions he’d grown accustomed to at FLC. So, he returned to Durango and FLC’s Philosophy program.
“I also tacked on Chemistry and Biochemistry because I’d studied ethics,” he says. “Instead of simply pontificating, I could put some of my beliefs to work trying to create a world in which it is possible to have a lot less suffering. It’s all well and good to go vegan and not support companies that perform animal testing, but I think practically speaking, we can do a lot more with biotechnology.”
In 2018, Hamilton graduated from FLC with a double major in Philosophy and Biochemistry and started working for Perfect Day Foods in San Francisco, California. The six-year-old company concocts whey proteins utilizing a similar fermentation process as that used in making beer. As a Research Assistant, Hamilton splits his workweek between home and the lab, where he sorts “proteins of interest” from other proteins, cells, salts, and nutrients. These sorted proteins are then passed along to create delicious, animal-free dairy products, like Smitten N’Ice Cream and Brave Robot Ice Cream, that make for those perfect-day parties.
Without McBrayer’s Intro to Philosophy class, Hamilton says he might never have realized that he could actually do something with ethics and change the world for the better.
“There are a lot of crossovers between the humanities and sciences,” says Hamilton. “I wish we could see more applications like this with a liberal arts education.”
For more on Hamilton’s fascinating research on ethical eating, check out “Do Plants Feel Pain?”, a paper that he co-authored with McBrayer and published in July 2020 in the peer-reviewed journal Disputatio.
*The thoughts shared in this article are from Adam Hamilton and not promoted by Perfect Day Foods, LLC.