Students see value in going vegan
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Holding large benefits for both human bodies and the environment, veganism is being practiced by students at Shores.
Senior Claudia Schaafsma said that after watching Cowspiracy on Netflix, she made a transition overnight that normally takes time and willpower.
“Cowspiracy goes into detail on how animal agriculture affects the environment, and I became a vegan overnight,” said Schaafsma, who has been a vegan for a year and a half.
Although typically stemming from the same reasoning, everyone’s stories of their transitions into veganism are different.
“I was watching a video that had an animal in it, and a chain of thoughts led me to realize that if you punched a pig, it would probably get upset and not like it. In other words, I just realized that animals were sentient,” said junior Max Wilson, who has been a vegan for three years. “It wasn’t a big problem for me to no longer eat animal products.”
When students go vegan, they are erasing all products derived from animals, such as milk, cheese, and meat, from their diets.
“The benefits on one’s body are endless,” Schaafsma said. “Veganism has given me so much more energy, cleared up my skin, and evened out my weight. Before I became vegan, I was sick all the time, but I’ve never been sick since I made the switch.”
Schaafsma is not the only student feeling the benefits of going vegan.
“Since I became a vegan, I’ve had a lot more energy, and I almost always feel like I’m at my best,” Wilson said.
Along with the benefits for the body, Schaafsma shared some benefits on the environment that impacted her switch.
“Animal agriculture is responsible for more greenhouse gas emissions than the entire transportation industry combined,” she said. “It is the No. 1 cause of rain forest destruction, habitat loss, ocean dead zones, animal extinction, and climate change. By eating a plant-based diet, vegans are doing more for the environment than we could ever do by recycling or not driving a car.”
Schaafsma said that veganism is simply not taking what is not yours.
“I didn’t give up anything when I became vegan,” she said. “There is a vegan option for literally every food out there that tastes just as good if not better than the original. You can still eat out and you can still eat all your favorite foods, but you can do it without harming any animals, your body, or the environment. I found the most challenge in letting go of cheese until I did more research on the dairy industry.”
Research is what Schaafsma said is the most important part of the transition.
“So many people have failed at the lifestyle because they didn’t know enough about nutrition, or they didn’t know enough about the meat and dairy industry to keep them motivated,” Schaafsma said. “It’s all about taking the time to restructure your views on health and nutrition and realize almost everything you’ve been told about it up to this point is not the truth. Transitioning to veganism is not difficult if one’s willing to do the research.”
According to dosomething.org, about 7.5 million Americans are vegan and abstain from all animal products.
“I was lucky enough to have a supportive parent who is now vegan as well, but that’s not the case for everyone, which can be difficult during teenage years,” Schaafsma said. “Veganism also has a reputation of not being affordable which could not be more wrong. A whole foods plant-based diet is not expensive – steak is expensive. There are tons of documentaries on Netflix that go way more into detail, and I encourage everyone to do some research.”