Romaine Calm- The Vegans are Taking Over!

Weekly Update


Emma Davis

Seniors Abby Kleman and Olivia O’Donnell spreading the vegan love.

Abby Kleman, Editor in Chief

Veganism is defined as “the practice of abstaining from the use of animal products, particularly in diet, and an associated philosophy that rejects the commodity status of animals.” The largest animal rights’ organization group, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, otherwise known as PETA claims, “Animals are not ours to eat, wear, experiment on, use for entertainment, or abuse in any way.” While a vegetarian is somebody who does not consume meat or fish, a vegan is someone who does not consume meat, fish, dairy products, eggs, or honey. Vegans also do not wear fur, purchase products that were tested on animals, or support the use of animals for entertainment. While a vegan diet and lifestyle might seem restrictive, the demand for plant-based products is undeniably increasing every day. As more people are jumping onto the plant-based bandwagon, veganism is already becoming more popular and realistic in 2018.

In January, a registered charity called “Veganuary” encouraged people to become vegan for the month of January, which would hopefully inspire them to continue beyond the month. Veganuary first launched in 2014, where 3,300 people signed up. Over 100,000 people pledged to go vegan this past January. This only confirms the increased interest in veganism, as more restaurants and supermarkets must respond to this new demand for plant-based products. The Veganuary coordinators encouraged people to go vegan this past January to help reduce the suffering of billions of animals, protect the environment, and find delicious and nutritious vegan recipes. The Veganuary official website also includes a surplus of helpful resources, such as a vegan starter kit, vegan recipes, a guide to eating out, and educated responses to vegan myths.

Most people go vegan for three main reasons: the animals, the environment, and health. The Veganuary official website includes background information about these three reasons and provides evidence that a plant-based diet is nutritionally abundant. Many people believe that being vegan means having an automatic deficiency in protein. However, beans, soy products, lentils, nuts, and seeds are all packed with plant-based proteins that will make people feel energized and satiated without all of the extra animal fats. In Dr. Michael Greger’s book, “How Not to Die,” the plant-based doctor correlates animal products to the foremost causes of death in the United States, including the leading killer of Americans: heart disease.

There are innumerable resources that prove a vegan diet is one of the most ethical, affordable, and efficient way of living. For example, in the documentary, “Cowspiracy,” filmmaker Kip Anderson asks environmental companies about how people can help save the environment. To his surprise, nobody mentioned animal agriculture, which scientifically is the leading cause of greenhouse gas emission. One of the largest issues regarding animal agriculture is people’s lack of communication regarding its repercussions, especially people in the large corporate organizations.

Not only is veganism becoming more prevalent worldwide, but it has also become more prevalent in Wilmington Friends School. The student-run club “Ethical Eats” was established in September and strives to teach students about leading a vegan lifestyle. The club partners with the largest animal rights youth group, peta2 (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) to provide information packets, posters, stickers, and recipes. Ethical Eats has also partnered with the school cafeteria, which now offers vegan macaroni and cheese, vegan cookies, and vegan coffee creamer. Emma Davis ’18, who has been a vegetarian for ten years and is a member of the club, commented on how her diet impacts her life from an ethical standpoint: “What I love about being a vegetarian is that I am not only helping my diet, but I am also helping animals. Standing back helped me learn about how we torture and hurt animals, and I love that I am not participating in this cruel act.” Ethical Eats encourages non-vegans to join club meetings, and a large amount of people attended the club’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day presentation. Club member Natalie DePaulo ’18 shared, “Although I’m not actually vegan, I have found it really interesting to learn about veganism and its benefits through my membership in Ethical Eats.”

While veganism and health-related issues are becoming more prevalent in the upper school, it is also incorporated into the middle school curriculum. Stephanie Knudsen, Middle School English and Social Studies teacher, integrates the environmental benefits of veganism in her courses. Eighth graders watch “Food, Inc.,” a documentary that shows how food is produced, as well as read “The Omnivore’s Dilemma,” a nonfiction book that focuses on the standard American diet and how food makes its way onto people’s plates. Knudsen commented, “I started teaching The Omnivore’s Dilemma after Mr. Hanson, Mrs. Horikawa and I went to the Cloud Institute for Sustainability Education. We created an interdisciplinary Food Unit. (The English department also wanted to incorporate more nonfiction.) It’s not my goal to create vegetarians or vegans, but I have found that–when confronted with the environmental impact of eating meat–some students have decided to change their habits.” Although not everybody will change their diets to incorporate more plant foods, it is still important to be aware of how food is produced.

While veganism is clearly becoming more attainable, it still does take commitment and determination. Knudsen added, “I find that being “whole-food, plant-based” (my term of choice) is both easier and harder than it used to be. Easier because restaurants tend to have vegan options, but still hard because it takes a lot of shopping and cooking if you are trying to avoid processed food. That is why I fail repeatedly! And because I can’t seem to give up cheese!” Following a plant-based diet is not about being perfect; it is about learning what works best for individuals and finding simple and efficient ways to prepare delicious and nutritious food. Many people who want to go vegan actually start their journey by cutting out certain animal products step by step. It is a learning process that embraces imperfections – there is no need to cut out all animal products cold-tofurkey (although that is what works best for some people)!

With vegan celebrities like Ellen DeGeneres and Miley Cyrus, as well as vegan activists such as Joey Carbstrong and Earthling Ed, more people are becoming inspired to adopt a more plant-based diet. Whether it is for the animals, health, or the environment, veganism is more than a diet: it is a lifestyle that encompasses compassion. For more information on animal rights, please watch the documentary, “Earthlings” on Youtube. To learn more about environmental factors, please watch “Cowspiracy,” and for more information on health benefits, please watch “What the Health,” which are both available on Netflix. The main point of veganism is not to judge others, but rather to inform and encourage people to learn more about where food comes from.