Vegans: They are loud, they are proud

Imagine life without leather belts, juicy steaks, drugstore foundation and weekend trips to Seaworld. This may sound like a distant dream, but for vegans, it’s a very real, daily lifestyle.

Vegans avoid all products and events which use or exploit animals, including food, clothing, makeup, and entertainment choices. Many vegans choose this lifestyle due to moral reasons for animal welfare, as did Ava Klein, 2016 graduate. In eighth grade, she began to have feelings of moral concern and became a vegetarian.

“I was reconnecting with how every kid feels: no one wants an animal to be killed. It’s just indoctrinated out of us,” Klein said. “Eventually in sophomore year I came across this video by Steve-O from Jackass and it went through all the animals … and how they’re basically victimized into mere objects. I remember just sitting down and (thinking): ‘I can’t do that anymore. I’m not going to contribute to that.’”

Dhroov Gajjar, senior, has been a vegan since June 2014. In sophomore year, Gajjar decided to do his English ESLR presentation on the benefits of veganism.

“(Veganism) is my ultimate passion. It kills me to see people be unnecessarily sick, animals suffering, and the planet dying. I wanted to inform people and dispel all the misinformation about the vegan lifestyle. I just wanted to speak up,” Gajjar said.

Riley Taylor, senior, was inspired by Gajjar’s presentation and transitioned shortly after.

“I made fun of him so much; I was like, ‘What do you eat?’” Taylor said. “(Then) I watched some documentaries and videos and started researching the lifestyle, and it really appealed to me. There are so many health benefits.”

The health benefit claims stem from the fact that vegan diets are comprised of  vegetables, fruits and grains, but not chemically processed fatty dairy products or red meat. According to a report by the World Health Organization earlier this year, increased consumption of red meat could elevate the chances of some cancers. By excluding these foods from one’s diet, vegans hope to improve athletic performance, cardiovascular and other general health problems.

“Basically, if you just focus on getting enough carbs like potatoes, rice, fruit, and stuff, you’re getting all that glucose to your brain so it’s just a joy to be a vegan because you get to eat as much as you want,” Klein said. “It’s not about taking things away; it’s about opening you up to a whole entire world.”

In addition to health benefits, vegans also list environmental benefits to support their choice, such as decreasing the greenhouse gas production and water consumption by livestock.

“Animal agriculture is the biggest cause of the climate disaster we are currently plagued with. Livestock contributes to 51% of total greenhouse gas emissions,” Gajjar said. “With veganism, you will save so much water because animal agriculture is responsible for 90% of total water consumption. Not to mention all the rainforests that are destroyed for livestock in order to feed the world’s insidious addiction.”

After becoming vegan, Klein became very vocal about her lifestyle, making Youtube videos about veganism in order to “speak for the voiceless victims of the planet.” She also maintains a vegan Instagram page to promote vegan food. One effect of her activism is the backlash she faces.

“You just have to meet (criticism) head-on with logic and bring the facts to the table because no matter what, science, logic, and morality are on the side of veganism,” Klein said. “The people who don’t want to listen (will) just be in a stupor of delusion their whole lives because people don’t want their illusions destroyed. They know that what they’re doing is just wrong, but they don’t want to change out of complacency or apathy.”

On the other hand, a more positive effect is that she has been able to convert others to veganism.

“If you talk about justice and morality, then you’re going to convince a lot more people if you really go to the nuts and bolts of it,” Klein said. “I’ve helped a lot of my friends transition to veganism. A lot of people online have DM’ed me over Instagram. Even my mom: she still eats fish but she’s come a long way.”

All three students plan to continue a life of veganism and spread the lifestyle to others.

“I love this lifestyle. I never expected myself to be vegan,” Taylor said. “I just woke up one day and said I don’t want to eat this anymore and just stopped.”


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