By Emma Whitaker | Reporter
College students can be quite unhealthy, and it can be a struggle to find healthy community. Through late night creamer-filled coffee runs, to In-N-Out burgers, to even floats at Dr Pepper hour, non-vegan friendly food often interlocks with Baylor’s social community. Being a vegan can feel isolating, even outcasting.
Lubbock junior Alexa Nelson, who had a vegetarian lifestyle going into her freshman year, said she did not always feel supported by the Baylor community for her choices.
“I got a lot of pushback from people,” Nelson said. “They would say, ‘Oh, why?’ or would try to argue with me on whether or not being a vegan or vegetarian was the right thing to do, not validating my reasons, which were centered around the health and treatment of animals.”
The Baylor Vegetarian Club, or the “Veggie Club” entered into college students’ pain and need for friendship and belonging. The Veggie Club aims to develop a community for the plant and animal lovers, who do not want to eat them because they love them, on campus. Their last meeting was held at Luna Juice Bar, where they discussed their vision for the new year, centered on community and connectedness. Dallas sophomore Shannon Smith, the social outreach chair, says the club serves as a way for people to feel know, and supported, even when their lifestyle proves to be challenging.
“I’ve always loved the environment, as I am a environmental studies major. I wanted to be a vegan for the environment, and then just after I learned about all the nastiness that goes into our bodies. We’re so desensitized to it, so disconnected from the animal treatment and environmental factors,” Smith said, “I want to make a change. Even though I’m just one person, I want to make a change.”
Smith said becoming a vegan does not mean changing your identity. She said she doesn’t bring it into every conversation, nor does she wear vegan tees every day. She said she simply loves nature and believes in her purpose.
The vegan community has deep ties and rituals of their own, sometimes ranging from watching vegan YouTube vloggers to going on roadtrips to Earth Day celebrations according to Smith. A few other members of the Veggie Club chimed in on what veganism and vegetarianism means to them personally.
Missouri City, Mo. junior Phillip Lee said that he is vegetarian because of the health and environmental benefits.
“For me it means I personally live healthier than I did before and no longer have to feel guilty about the source of my food,” Lee said.
Phillip said that he cares too much about his moral values to return to a different diet.
“I couldn’t justify eating selfishly at the cost of not only the planet, but also future generations. I don’t miss my old lifestyle, and I don’t see how I could morally ever go back,” Houston senior Grace Vollmers said.
Smith said that those food groups do not even seem like true food groups anymore in her eyes. They have become unappetizing. It may be a long road to completely quit dairy and meat, but Smith says the wait is worth it. She said it is worth the health, freedom, and energy people can find.
If you are struggling finding a healthy community on campus, the Veggie Club offers you a community of students that are like-minded in mind, body and spirit. You can find the Veggie Club on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/buvegetarians/.