By Amanda Schreck
SC Staff Writer
Vegans have gained momentum in mainstream media, food industries, restaurants, and countless home and bath products since the inception of The Vegan Society in 1944. The term, veganism, was coined and forever changed the face of animal welfare.
According to the Vegetarian Resource Group’s 2008 poll, over seven million people are vegetarian, and over one million are vegan in the US.
Unlike strictly plant-based diets, veganism is a lifestyle. Vegans care about their carbon footprint, how they affect their environment by what they eat and how they live their life, and advocate for creatures that don’t have a voice.
Vegans speak out against animal testing, don’t wear leather, fur, and wool, and speak out against animal exploitation in places such as aquariums zoos, and circuses. They focus on protecting the earth as much as possible and living with nature, not fighting against it.
Vegans realize the impact they have on their world is exponential. In an ESU survey that I conducted, 21 individuals voiced their opinions on this important matter.
Some believe that one person can’t make that big of a difference on our world. “If I give up meat for animal purposes, it’s not going to save all of the animals. My one mouth won’t make a difference. But I don’t have anything against vegetarians,” said one anonymous survey-taker.
Studies have shown that just one person can change the course of history. For example, it takes between 2,400 gallons of water to produce one pound of beef. To produce one pound of wheat only require 25 gallons.
If you were to not eat a package of beef, the amount of water you would save would be equal to what you would save by not showering for six months. Animal agriculture is the cause for almost half of the world’s greenhouse-gas emissions.
Meat, dairy, and egg industries are one of the main causes for the release of carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide which are the biggest causes of global warming and the destruction of the Earth’s ozone layer. Many people, especially at ESU, aren’t vegan or vegetarian. The majority of survey takers don’t believe it is morally or ethically wrong to eat meat.
Some are very adamant about how they feel about vegan options offered in schools, and how that would affect their food choices.
One anonymous person said, “Sorry 5% isn’t enough to change a schools entire meal plan. If 5% started eating bugs, would you expect a bug buffet? We have salad, eat that or bring your own. ‘Merica.”
However, 55% of the students who took the survey have thought about transitioning to vegan or vegetarian lifestyles. Over 90% of students want healthier options on campus, and more vegan and vegetarian options just for the health benefits.
As a vegan myself, I have served as an advocate for veganism.
Two of my classmates have even told me they are considering becoming vegan. Oksana Smoliniec remembered a statistic I told her, and she couldn’t get it out of her head.
“Most of the time if I do eat animal products/meat, its fish. I won’t eat veal, and I try to avoid meat from factory farms,” said Smoliniec.
Another student who is transitioning to veganism over the summer, Sara Solares said, “It’s going to be hard, but how can I be an animal activist when I eat meat?”
Even some faculty on campus like Professor Leenerts and Professor Madigan in the English department are vegan/vegetarian. Madigan said he has been a vegetarian for about eight years now. He explained, “I just don’t want to eat animals.”
Last month, Jose Elias from Vegan Outreach handed flyers out to ESU students.
He said the need for more vegan options on campus is on the rise, and he has seen many colleges incorporate more options in their dining halls. “With so many students catching on and committing to a plant based diet, the need for campuses to accommodate them is highly regarded,” said Elias.
With vegan options on the rise on college campuses, restaurants, and grocery stores, being vegan is easier than ever. If we want to see a change, we have to let our voices be heard.
For change to happen, there has to be a movement of passion and educational resources to help colleges see the change happening in student’s lives. With time, resources, and student outreach, ESU and other colleges around the US will eventually grow.
Jose Elias believes we all have the willpower to change campuses and the future of many animals and the environment, “You have the power to end suffering, and it starts at the dinner table. Every time you sit down to eat, choose compassion.”
The next time you go into Dansbury Commons or the Union, you have the power to change the world around you. It’s up to you.
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