Interview with a Vegan

It seems that a large population of vegans and vegetarians are college students, which is not surprising to me, as college students tend to have some very progressive ideas.

Kristen Lambert is a 20-year-old vegan who attends Utah Valley University. She follows a vegan diet and has interned at the Vegetarian Resource Group, an organization dedicated to educating the population about vegetarianism.

In order to gain some insight as to why other people my age chose to be vegan, I spoke to Kristen about her dietary choices.

ME: What motivated you to become a vegan?

KRISTEN: The idea first manifested itself with animals rights, but has grown to include environmental and human rights.

ME: What do you believe the true meaning of veganism and vegetarianism is?

KRISTEN: Being a vegan or vegetarian is an attempt to prevent as little harm as possible. This is not just a dietary change, but affects your entire lifestyle. Not partaking in animal products or bi-products is as important to me as making sure that the system responsible for dispensing misery is destroyed.

The true meaning of veganism in my opinion is a philosophy of compassion that provides a voice for the voiceless, whether that be animals who are human or aren’t.

ME: Do you think it’s important to be militant about hidden animal ingredients or trace amounts of hidden animal products?

KRISTEN: My mom has always given me great advice; pick your battles. That is to say, I’m not against people being militant about hidden animal derived ingredients, as I for one have been called the “vegan police” on numerous occasions, but I also believe that seeing the forest for the trees is important and small issues are usually symptoms of larger underlying problems such as improper food labeling.

ME: How do you choose which products that contain hidden animal products you use? For instance sugar, rubber.

KRISTEN: I don’t believe that it is possible to be 100% vegan, so in order for me to feel content with my actions I try to do the best I can. The products that people use (even if they don’t directly contain animal ingredients) have likely destroyed a living creature’s habitat, but if you are in any way able to reduce suffering through something like not supporting a subsidized meat and dairy industry that inflicts pain, you should.

If I am able to avoid purchasing products that are known to contain animal ingredients, I will. In regards to a product like rubber which I am assuming is most likely referring to shoes, I either buy them second hand from a thrift store, or snag some from a dumpster, neither of which supports that industry or a wasteful society.

ME: What do you most consider when making dietary choices?

KRISTEN: First and foremost, is it vegan? I would prefer the food to be from alternative sources (like a dumpster or maybe Food Not Bombs) that don’t support an agricultural system in desperate need of worker’s rights, but those options aren’t always available. If I am buying food I try to stay with organic, fair trade and local if possible.

ME: Has becoming a vegan made you feel healthier?

KRISTEN: In terms of mental engagement and social activism, definitely. If you are asking about physical health, that depends on the day. I still fall victim to what seems like my eternal enemy- sugar.

ME: How do you make sure you get proper nutrition?

KRISTEN: Any nutritionist talking about a vegan diet will likely tell you the same thing: eat a varied diet. I am fortunate enough to love vegetables and other whole foods. However, if you aren’t able to find all of the necessary nutrients you need in your food (which is something to strive for) then supplements such as vitamins can be important. One nutrient that cannot be derived from plants is B12, and thus it is important to eat foods fortified with it (nutritional yeast, soy milk, an some cereals) or consume lozenges or drops containing it.

ME: Do you make an active effort to introduce the vegetarian and vegan lifestyle to other people?

KRISTEN: I certainly try. I am fortunate enough to be a decent cook and baker, so I offer to make vegan food for people to show them how tasty it can be. None of that unseasoned tofu out of the package nonsense!

If someone wants to talk about issues concerning veganism and ways they can become vegan I am more than happy to talk with them. In the past I helped pass out pamphlets at events with Vegan Outreach, and would like to start up again soon since I am a strong believer in changing people’s minds through education. Usually if you are passionate about your beliefs and open to communication with others, sharing your ideals isn’t too difficult.






One Comment to “Interview with a Vegan”

  1. This was a very interesting post. Good job.

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