A group of students have become vegan for a month, as part of Go Green Week.
The “vegan challenge” is affiliated with student campaigning group People and Planet, and involves around 30 people.
Those participating have stopped eating any animal-sourced products, including eggs, milk and cheese, to highlight the effects of livestock production on the environment.
Beth Smith, a third year politics and international studies student, is in charge of the campaign. As president of the Animal Rights and Vegetarian Society at Warwick, she was vegan before the month started. She hopes to show people that being vegan is easier than many think.
“We’re trying to make it seem like it’s a fun and easy thing to do, having lots of eating and socials together,” she says.
Smith also explains the idea behind the vegan challenge: “The basic principle is if you feed an animal, and then eat the animal, it uses up more stuff than if you cut out that middle link”—vital resources like water. She also mentions the effect of methane, a gas produced in abundance by cattle and one that is said to contribute heavily to global warming.
At the beginning of the vegan challenge, Smith put together a pack of materials about being vegan, including nutrition information and recipes, to help new vegans “still have a healthy, balanced diet and interesting meals.”
The pack has a list of websites with vegan and vegetarian restaurants and meals, and information about how to get enough protein without a meat-based diet.
Megan Fortune, a first year student, is one of those participating in the vegan challenge. She ate meat regularly prior to the challenge, so it was a “shift” for her to become vegan.
“It’s really hard, as someone who wasn’t vegan or vegetarian, to realise what is actually vegan and what isn’t. That’s why it’s important to have a support group,” says Fortune. She felt like getting involved because of “the ethical side of it.”
She also mentions how healthy a vegan diet is. “As much as people want to say, ‘why are you vegan, it’s so unhealthy,’ if you eat the right sort of things and follow rules, then it can be incredibly healthy.”
Go Green Week is in week eight of this term, and is part of a nationwide student campaign by People and Planet.
The Times reported in 2006 that of the population, there are an estimated three quarters of a million vegans.
Founder of veganism, Donald Watson, lived to the ripe old age of 95 – far beyond the 73 years the average male can expect to enjoy – before his death in 2005.
Watson took the word vegan from the front and back end of “vegetarian”, expressing his belief that this new, absolutist diet was in fact the first impulse and the final destination of the vegetarian journey.”