Face Behind Burger

The Face Behind Your Burger

You may have heard of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), puppy mills, a friend adopting from a shelter instead of buying a pet at a store, or have maybe met someone who does not eat meat.

All of these actions are part of a unique belief system, a lifestyle called veganism. So what does it mean to be vegan?

“Vegans are a group of individuals who abstain from the dietary consumption or other use of any animal product,” writes associate professor and Department Chair in Health and Physical Education Christopher Hirschler, Ph.D., in his publication, “What Pushed Me over the Edge Was a Deer Hunter: Being Vegan in North America.” If you are a vegan, you already know these great benefits that come along with the life changing decision, so let us shed some light to others who may not know.

It is not an old wives tale that your body feels different! Senior finance student, Brenna Sermarini, shared she feels better physically since her decision to eat a plant based diet. “I feel happier, my skin is clearer, and my body feels more energetic,” she said. The reason behind this is the foods packed with hormones and chemicals that you would typically eat in an animal/carnism central diet are being replaced with more fresh produce and other plant based substitutions.

Don’t believe it? Eating a vegan diet has proven to help with severe health issues including those relating to the heart and boosting immune systems. A study conducted by the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health shows “[Those eating a ‘healthy’ plant-based diet high in whole grains, fruits, vegetables and healthy fats were less likely to get heart disease]”. Sermarini continues to discuss about when she reintroduced animal products, excluding meat, back into her diet. “All of the benefits of a eating plant-based [diet] were quickly lost, and I realized just how much my body is not meant to consume animal products,” continues Sermarini.

If you are interested in taking smalls steps, the chipotle mayonnaise at the wrap and panini station in the dining hall is vegan! Also freshly baked vegan goods like apple pastries and chocolate chip cookie bars are now offered daily. To continue focusing on your body and what you eat, let us also keep in mind how you eat. A person typically eats better when they cook for themselves versus purchasing prepackaged foods or ordering out.

Focusing on produce instead of the filet mignon piece or lobster for dinner will also save some bucks! “When eating plant-based products, I am able to control my sodium, trans fat and cholesterol intake that is often found in dairy and meats,” chimes junior English student Jane Lai. As a vegan, you have the ability to control your fats and boost your vitamins intake.

This change in your diet also opens the door to expand your palette! Ethiopian, Thai, and Chinese cuisines have many options, but many other ethnic cultures can easily be veganized! Buffalo Cauliflower Bites are highly recommended as well as trying to use canola or olive oil instead of butter in many of your dishes.

When a recipe calls for cream, canned coconut milk can do the trick. For your next vegan meal eating out, head over to the bustling and quaint cafe Good Karma in Red Bank or the infamous restaurant Champs or Urban Kitchen in the city.

Besides eating delicious food, there comes responsibility with the knowledge of the exploitation of animals. Sophomore economics and English student Andie Mali said, “It is up to us to educate and inform with love and tolerance. All this can counteract stereotypes, and we would actually start seeing a greater interest in healthy choices based on our example.”

Many stereotypes are thrown around such as only eating salads and tofu, being underweight, and suffering from malnutrition. In fact, American Olympic weightlifter Kendrick Farris is vegan, as well as actors and musicians Jared Leto and Jennifer Lopez are part of the growing community.

“I think the biggest thing I would capitalize is that there’s nothing to be afraid about being a vegetarian/vegan. There’s a common misconception where the person needs to make huge lifestyle changes and that’s really not the case… Yeah they need to change their eating habits, but besides that it’s not that hard,” contributed sophomore marine and environmental biology and policy student, Emily Keane.

Besides the meat industry, animals are also exploited for entertainment in films, zoos, and aquariums. A recommended watch is the film Blackfish that focuses on the life and mistreatment of orca whales.

Learning about how confined the bottlenose dolphins and the tigers at zoos are and how mentally straining these cruel living conditions are, one is able to make an informed decision to not support organizations that do so. Information about different topics and ideas can make a person knowledgeable, but what they do next with it gives light to their character.

Most humans, if not all, “love animals” and “hate animal abuse.” How many people apply their philosophies and treat all animals including pigs, dogs, and cows equally? Maybe you have a friend who hates being late, yet always is? Or another example, you know someone who claims to never cheat because doing so is wrong, yet you know they did so during their last exam, so you might think it was hypocritical.

Hypocrisy is when one’s actions do not reflect one’s morals or ethics. A person who does not take part in the violent, sexualizing, and cruel system of meat consumption, clothes, and other industries, is taking the time and energy to stay true to themselves and their personal ethics. It is always good to be an honest and consistent person to not just the world but also with yourself.

“My motivations are to reduce suffering, what can I do to reduce suffering and live my values. I value nonviolence, I value animals, all animals,” added Hirschler.

Overall, being vegan is not just about what one eats and it is more than just a trend. Look around you and question why you wear your Uggs or choose to add cheese in your sandwich, you may be surprised to find out why becoming vegan is for you.

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