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  • Brooke Crouch

Veganism: One Green Dining Intern's Perspective

Happy World Vegan Month!

I went vegan the summer before my senior year of high school. It wasn’t an easy decision, let me tell you! While I had been (mostly) vegetarian for several years, my diet still relied heavily on animal products - and I wasn’t in any hurry to give them up. My sister was the deciding factor in my choice - she had gone vegan a few months prior, and began to share some startling facts about the environmental, ethical, and health impacts of our diets that forced me to reconsider the choices I was making.

For me, it was a matter of aligning my actions with my values. I had always thought of myself as an environmentalist, but here was an action I could take to immediately reduce my own impact. While veganism is not always feasible based on your health and economic situation, for me it was a relatively simple transition for a large impact.

For the first year, the only other person I knew who was vegan was my sister. I had a lot of people question my choices, from friends to family members to random people in my class. While I enjoyed providing some answers to their questions, I longed for a community of people who shared my values and beliefs.

When I came to UVA, I immediately became involved with Veggies of Virginia (VOV). VOV is a student-led CIO that promotes a plant based lifestyle through community building, education, and outreach. Everyone - whether you are vegan, vegetarian, or just interested in reducing your animal product consumption - is welcome at all of our events.

VOV has been one of my sources of strength at UVA over the last four years. When you make a decision like going vegan, it can be incredibly helpful to have a supportive community who understands exactly what you are going through. From sharing recipes and plant based eating guides, to weekly meetings and social events, Veggies of Virginia is a place of positivity and comfort for me and many other people. In fact, I’ve met many of my closest friends there!

VOV has also been a way for me to become an activist on an issue I care deeply about. We believe that the best way to change people’s minds is to show them how fun, easy, and rewarding being vegan can be! Just a few weeks ago, we hosted a Vegan Mac and Cheese Cookoff where six students served up their homemade mac and cheese to VOV members, UVA students and the Charlottesville community. We have a Vegan Bake Off in the spring, and throughout the year we host vegan potlucks that are open to everyone. By providing a welcoming, non judgemental environment for people to learn more about veganism and try some new and tasty foods, we are slowly helping to make a shift towards eating ethically - and having fun while doing it!

More information about Veggies of Virginia:

- Instagram and FB: @veggiesofvirginia

If you’re interested in learning more about veganism or plant based eating, I would suggest the following resources:

- Documentaries

- Cowspiracy

- Seaspiracy

- Forks over Knives

- Game Changers

- Recipe Ideas:

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