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Vegan: You Probably Know One

What do you think of when you hear the word “vegan?” Do you think of gross food? Do you think of hipsters? Do you think of animal rights? Do you think of people giving you a hard time for your lifestyle choices? Do you think of people who can’t go five minutes without telling everyone in the room that they are vegan?

You most likely have heard all of these stereotypes, but how many people do you know who are actually vegan? What are their lifestyles like? And what does it even really mean to be “vegan?” Although I am not a vegan, I will be the one talking your ear off today about what exactly veganism is all about.

The idea of veganism has been around since 1944, but recently has become popular with grocery stores carrying more vegan items and celebrities even taking part in the way of life. According to Heath Line, a vegan lifestyle includes, “attempts to exclude all forms of animal exploitation and cruelty, be it for food, clothing or any other purpose.” While vegetarianism is just a diet, veganism differs because it involves excluding all products that are animal-based. People oftentimes go vegan for a variety of different reasons, such as health and ethical concerns, or their religion’s values.

Personally, I have considered going vegan. I wanted to try out the lifestyle because I thought it would allow me to have a healthier, plant-based diet. Realistically, though, I did not get the chance to go vegan because it would not work for me. Since I am already gluten free due to a gluten intolerance, meat comprises a big part of my diet. Excluding animal products from my diet would restrict it a lot more and it would be hard to adjust to. In addition, it would be difficult for me to practice veganism in between classes and work and just always being on the run. I would have to dedicate time to transition to the lifestyle that I just don’t have right now.

Making the switch to being a vegan is doable, though. The University provides options for vegan students. At the student center, you can try substituting beans or chickpeas for meat at the salad bar, or when getting a rice bowl. At the dining hall, tofu is often on the menu, and there are a variety of fruits and vegetables available there as well. Making little changes like including those foods can lead to a big lifestyle change.

Grace Guippone, a senior music education student at Monmouth, has been vegan since Jan. of 2018, and explains that when making meals, being vegan “is honestly easier because I mainly make vegetable dishes, so there’s no need to prepare meat.” However, she described that, “The hardest part in the beginning for me was going out to eat because dairy is basically in everything… but now I don’t even think about it…and many restaurants are starting to expand their menus.”

Being vegan can be a difficult transition to make at first, but like with anything you can get used to it, and it can definitely be possible!  Whether it’s for health, ethical, or religious reasons being a vegan takes hard work, and I commend anyone who can do it and stick to it for their cause.

So next time you meet a vegan, don’t be so quick to judge. Maybe this time you’ll be more inclined to listen to their spiel about living a vegan life!