On the ethical, dietary appeal of veganism

In today’s increasingly environmental and health-conscious society, veganism has become an established diet among many. One could even say that veganism has made its way into pop culture, from the overdone “I found the vegan” jokes to Justin Timberlake’s memorable “Veganville” skit on “Saturday Night Live.” While there are many stereotypes surrounding veganism, the lifestyle continues to play a large part in the nutrition industry, as well as campus life in Geneseo. As a lifestyle, veganism is an appealing choice for both dietary and ethical reasons. Some people convert to veganism in order to live a healthier lifestyle, while others feel strongly against the inhumane practices used on animals in factory farms. For many, their choice of veganism includes a combination of both.

Freshman cross country runner Nathan Yost became a vegan a little over a year ago after suffering from Achilles Tendinitis, a common running injury. In order to not gain weight during a lapse in his training, Yost decided to adopt a vegan diet.

“[Veganism] has helped with recovery. I’ve seen lots of improvements from my times over the past year,” Yost said. “It helps me train more consistently too—you should always be focused on your diet.”

Although Yost initially became a vegan for more health-based reasons, he has started to support the diet for ethical reasons as well. In addition to not eating meat, dairy or eggs, Yost does not eat honey or use leather, wool or silk.

“It’s all about doing as much as possible not to exploit animals,” Yost said. “Stealing honey from bees—which is bee vomit—is a nutritional source for them. It’s not helpful.”

Junior Courtney King has been a vegetarian for about a year and decided to go vegan approximately a month ago. Like Yost, she supports the diet for ethical reasons.

“I don’t necessarily have an issue with animal products themselves, but don’t easily have access to products coming from humane environments,” King said. “The egg industry is often rated as more inhumane than the poultry industry itself.”

According to peta2.com, Geneseo’s vegan options were given an 86 percent satisfaction rating. The site assessed campus dining hall menus based on factors such as labeling vegan foods and offering vegan entrees at every meal. Both Yost and King agree that Geneseo provides a vegan-friendly dining experience. Yost emphasized Fusion’s vegan options—vegetarian burritos, tofu stir fry and noodle bowls—while King emphasized the wraps and salads offered around campus.

The negative stereotypes surrounding both vegans and their diet distinguish veganism from any other diet similar to it. When asked about the stereotypes, Yost explained a myth about protein deficiencies in a vegan diet.

“A big misconception about veganism is the protein factor,” Yost said. “You can get protein from almost anywhere except for oils and pure sugar.”

King focused more on stereotypes surrounding the people practicing veganism.

“I think the actions of certain groups make it seem as if vegans are all angry and radical,” King said. “While this may be true for some people, I think most vegans are more accepting of others’ decisions to not follow a plant-based diet.”

As the world becomes more vegan-friendly with faux meats and non-dairy milk products, veganism continues to benefit people in a myriad of different ways.