About 5 years ago I heard the term, “Vegan,” for the first time, and honestly I had no idea what it meant. Recently, I have been attending local vegan events and potlucks, where I have experienced and learned some new and interesting things.
A vegan is someone who does not eat any animal products. When someone first explained that to me years ago I was definitely confused at first, it caught me off guard. I can remember thinking to myself, “Why would anyone torture themselves into committing to something like that?” But, in reality it’s the humans that are doing the torturing to others.
Over a month ago, for school, I was encouraged to do a practicum for a vegan group, which is led by a Professor of mine. Being that I’m always open to new ideas I said, “Sure why not…” It seemed interesting, and I was eager to see what being vegan was all about.
The Monmouth Area Vegetarian Society is the nonprofit vegan group I have been participating with. They meet once a month, on Sunday afternoons, at the Magill Commons Dining Room at Monmouth University. MAVS events are free and open to the public. They just ask to try and contribute a vegan dish that also includes a list of its ingredients. MAVS events usually entertain about 30-50 people, include close to 20 vegan dishes, and the last two meetings have had a guest speaker.
Being that I’m not vegan- has actually made going to these events even more interesting and educational. I see and understand a vegan’s perspective now, why they have chosen this “different” lifestyle. I was inspired to write about MAVS and my take on veganism by MAVS most recent guest speaker, Jon Camp.
Jon Camp is a vegan and is the Director of outreach for Vegan Outreach. Vegan Outreach is another nonprofit vegan society that aims to expose and end animal cruelty through the distribution of literature. He has personally handed out over 1 million of his pamphlets to people about Vegan Outreach. Come now, that’s “f’n” legit.
What I admired and learned: To start, just take a second to think about this. MAVS and people all over the world are vegan for all the right and feel good reasons. They use their time to meet, discuss, learn, etc…about raising awareness and finding new ways to better our environment. Whether it’s saving animals’ lives, or attempting to keep our precious thing we call Earth cleaner. Everyone who shows up to MAVS is very friendly and super passionate about being vegan, and most importantly all about protecting animals. Most of people in this world could give two shits less about knowing where our food comes from, and how the whole process of how the animals are treated-NOT these people.
Although MAVS members are all very friendly, talking about the killing and how animals are brutally treated is definitely a sensitive and personal subject for them. When people ask questions and participate after the guest speaker speaks, you can hear the tone in their voice change, when animals are brought up. From what I have noticed, I’ve heard two different tones; you hear a tone of love, care, and nurture. Then there’s a tone that portrays some anger, sadness, and disappointment. Both tones are out of pure love and appreciation for animals. The second tone hits people harder, for someone like me, because it’s one thing to be proactive and express love for something… but, people take things deeper when characteristics of the second tone are present. What would get someone to stop smoking more, someone positively expressing how they’ve lost someone close to them to it? Or, someone telling it in a way that shows emotions of sadness and a broken heart?
I guess my point from that example is that I didn’t fully realize just how personal this was for people. Someone being vegan is more than just a decision in life, it’s also a mission. When I see and hear people speak at MAVS I can relate and feel their passion and love for being vegan, and wanting to, “Save the animals.”
They see things through the eyes of animals. They realize that animals are much smarter than people tend to think. They realize that animals such as pigs, which was recently brought to my attention that they are one the cleanliest and smartest animals, suffer day in and night out. Suffer to the point where they are not able to communicate with each other, move around, or peacefully chill in the sun on a gorgeous day- so they can slowly die for our consumption because of money making oriented corporations.
It was also brought to my attention by fellow students that pigs put mud on their bodies for protection from the sun, it’s their sunscreen. When I heard that I was mind blow, ha. Vegans realize these animals have true feelings. People show up to MAVS events with their own reusable plates, forks, knives, and bottles. Honestly, I admire and appreciate what they do, because they’re selfless.
They put the feelings of animals before themselves. They have the thought of doing little things like bringing reusable plates to a MAVS event, because it’s realistically helping preserve the environment. One other thing they stress, even though they are so passionate and committed to veganism, is that they don’t want to press or force being vegan on anyone. I like that style and approach a lot. It was shocking to hear that people have said negative and mean things towards vegans, seriously why would anyone waste their time to be so low like that? They would rather inform/educate and inspire people, almost like leading by example, like Jon Camp.
When I heard Jon Camp speak he made a lot of great and valid points. He had a great way of explaining how to approach people and inspire veganism on them. First off, the way he spoke to his audience and in conversations with others was in the friendliest way someone could exemplify. I was definitely moved by his session. He had a smart point; their number one target audience should be college students-GENIUS. College students are at the point in their life where they are learning so much- Learning and experiencing about life, who will they turn out to be, what they actually value. College students are always looking to find out something new, or get involved with something. Plus, most are cooking and getting food on their own. With veganism growing, college students are also the immediate future to keep that trend going up. They’re so easy to reach too, with technology and social media. As a college student myself it made me think…
Converting to be a vegan is something that is not going to happen overnight for most people, or at least for me. If I am to end up being a vegan it’s going to take a lot of time. For me the best way to convert is by going to these events. Hearing speakers like Jon Camp is both motivational and inspirational. Seeing vegans share their interests and viewpoints is affective.
Having the option to try more and more vegan dishes is very important. Someone can’t become vegan if they don’t know what they are able to eat and consume. At MAVS last event, I loved the food. I had about 3 plates worth. I was like a kid in a candy store grabbing and trying anything that caught my eye like tofu wraps, rice’s, pasta, and the vegan form of mac and cheese. I was more than content with the food, and it strongly made me reflect if I could do this for good.
Time and experience is what it would take for me to become vegan. It’s definitely something that has recently been on my mind. It is tough though, because I love eating all sorts of different foods. I love things like seafood and meat. I like going out to eat at restaurants, and being able to have all the options on a place’s menu. Going to a sporting event and having a cheesesteak or hot dog, is something I’ve always enjoyed.
Can I let those things go? Of course I can, but I’m not sure if I’m ready to just yet. Perhaps somewhere down the road you’ll be able to hear me say, “Hey, I’m a vegan.” It’s the little things about those events and vegans that will contribute the most though; like simply hearing Jon Camp speak. I’m going to continue to attend MAVS events…