The vegan and vegetarian lifestyle has its roots planted in the basis of living a healthy life and no longer contributing to animal violence and cruelty. With a growing population of people turning to this diet, the Grizzly community established the first Vegan and Vegetarian Club in the Clark County School District on November 28.
Currently, about 12 students attend weekly meetings held every Tuesday. On January 30, the club hosted a movie screening of “What The Health,” a 2017 documentary that shows the benefits of eating vegan, and what regular processed foods do to the body.
Allison Kray, Vegan and Vegetarian Club President, used to struggle with her weight, an issue that she said lowered her self-esteem. Kray said she began to eliminate certain foods and work out consistently. Eventually, she chose to live vegan, a lifestyle that has allowed her to lose weight and live healthier.
“I weighed over 230 pounds, and I wanted to become a healthier person,” Kray said. “I also have two vegan sisters who helped me transition off all animal products.”
The club, Kray said, is meant to inform others about how vegan and vegetarianism can change their lives for the better. Members address how to live a vegan lifestyle, how animal corporations are often cruel, and how being vegan or vegetarian impacts the environment. Even though the club focuses on this lifestyle, the club is open to everyone and is meant to inform.
“There is no downside to veganism, and with the help of the internet, people have access to documentaries and videos that show the truth of the animal agricultural industry,” Zea Stoner, Vegan and Vegetarian Vice President, said.
The main difference between a vegan and vegetarian diet is what they are allowed to eat. Veganism is the practice that a person does not consume any animal product, or animal byproduct. Vegetarianism is the practice of eliminating meats, but not entirely eliminating animal products. A vegetarian is allowed to consume dairy products, and in some cases, eggs.
Stoner saw the importance of starting a club that is welcoming to students who live a similar life, and educating the school community on veganism and vegetarianism.
“As vegans and vegetarians, it is our responsibility to be activists and spread the message and truth as much as possible, even at schools,” Stoner said. “If students knew the truth about their school foods, they would totally boycott it.”
Vegan and Vegetarian Club Advisor Michael Monson, is vegan himself and is founder and chef of his YouTube channel “Monson Made This.” His channel has become a hit amongst students. Currently Monson has more than 600 subscribers and growing with 25 videos focusing on how to cook vegan food.
“I just decided to try a vegan diet,” Monson said. “As you are trying to figure out on how to live the life you watch YouTube shows and looking at other people on Instagram you start to go down the rabbit hole.”
Math teacher Timothy Jacklin decided to become a vegetarian out of curiosity. Despite him being a picky eater when he was younger, Jacklin first tried the transition in 2008 during Lent. After he married is when he fully became a vegetarian.
“By the time we (Jacklin and his wife) got to know each other more I kinda adopted the lifestyle by default,” Jacklin said. “I never really felt comfortable, if I’m not the one that’s preparing my food with killing an animal, I wouldn’t want to eat it.”
The transition to veganism begins with the first step of becoming a vegetarian, a journey Kray and Stoner both took. Most vegans today took the steps due to how the animal product industry mistreats animals, health benefits, and protecting the environment.
“If everyone ate a plant based diet, we could feed the world,” Kray said. “We currently produce enough calories to feed 10 to 11 billion people worldwide, however the majority of this goes to feed livestock, not hungry people.”
Studies conducted by Harvard Medical School show that living low fat vegetarian or vegan lifestyle can lower a person’s risk to heart disease, and in some cases even reverse heart disease.
Despite health benefits, club member Katherine Johnson believes there is an increase in the community because of the access to education and knowledge.
“Which is wonderful because we can educate [people] on things they are curious about,” Johnson said. “When people just simply research veganism, they come to find it is one of the most beneficial, lovely lifestyles they could choose.”
After the realization of how animals are treated in the food industry it helped Stoner make the decision to transition from a vegetarian to vegan lifestyle.
“I was not okay with my dog being treated the way farm animals do,” Stoner said. “ I shouldn’t be eating meat and contributing to it. At 15, I went vegan when I realized all animal products are as cruel as meat.”
Documentaries including Netflix Original “Rotten”’and “What The Health” are all the craze. Depicting the realities that happen in the food industry; the mistreatment of animals, and chemicals in fruits and vegetables, and even how eating meats contributes to global warming.