Veganism: An Extremist Cult?

Many vegans and activists for the cause have been likened to that of extremist cults, but this is not the case at all.

As a student recently starting my course and living in Eastbourne, I was astounded by how alien the lifestyle of residents here appears to that of Brighton.

Neighbour to one of the most vegan-friendly recognised cities in the UK, Eastbourne seems to have so little acknowledgement for the dietary movement and the benefits it evokes. This lack of awareness stirred up confusion in my mind and as I looked into it more, I noticed that there is less than a handful of café’s and eateries that promote the way of life.

From conversations with my peers, it is evident that their understanding of veganism is inadequate due to the absence of education on the subject.  With this in mind, I took it upon myself to show my flatmates the critically acclaimed film Cowspiracy (which can be found on Netflix), to try and broaden their knowledge and help inspire at least the mildest of recognition for the devastating and corruptive nature of the meat and dairy industry. Even after watching educational films like this, individuals still seem to be somewhat desensitised to meat products due to the remoulding and unfamiliarity to real animal body parts, allowing them to separate the concepts and disengage from the connection. But this can change! As a reader, I urge you to take the time to try to participate in Vegan Month this November -whether that be watching Cowspiracy or making even tiny adjustments to your diet, and gain insight into the drastically positive environmental effects that veganism has.

So what is veganism? To cut a long story short, veganism is a diet and lifestyle that entails eating/utilising products that have no involvement in the exploitation of animals. This includes things such as: animal captivity, harm, reproduction, testing, fishing. You might not even realise you’ve contributed to the barbaric industry, with products such as cosmetics often having little advertisement concerning their involvement.

So what is being done to help? Many cosmetics organisations such as The Body Shop and Kat Von D Beauty have ensured that their products are free from animal testing. Animal food products are also becoming less and less idealised, with companies such as Sainsbury’s and Marks and Spencer launching vegan and vegetarian ranges in their supermarkets. Activism in 2017 is certainly thriving, with activists such as Kate Powell (featured in the video above)- a young individual, similar to my age – making the ethical and sustainability issues of a carnivorous diet a key vocal point on social media platforms.

Throughout the various university campus’ I have visited, vegan and vegetarian options are readily available. With plant based alternatives such as soya milk and hot food options varying from day to day. However revolutionary this might be, it is blatant that the institute and our student society has a long way to go, yet the options have not gone unseen and are massively appreciated. I hope to inspire students and instigate awareness of the health implications that meat and dairy have on the body and how nutritious alternatives are. Help yourselves, save lives, save the environment.

You may think that cutting out animal produce is unattainable and a task in vain, but it really is just not that hard, open mindedness and less stigma around the lifestyle is paramount and will in turn encourage acceptance and potentially more involvement. Veganism is not a phase or an extremist cult, take responsibility for your actions and help make a difference.

Sign the petition to help make animal testing defunct!

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