There is a new vegan breeze spreading into Vanier as the second week of March is rich in vegan-related activity. Co-occuring with the women’s week, Richard Dugas, Vanier College sustainability officer; Yulia Yugay, main organizer; and Serena Ghougassian, sustainability coordinator for the VCSA, along with other volunteers, worked hard to offer students a Vegan Challenge and speakers, with the hope of spreading awareness on animal rights.
The Vegan Challenge consisted to abstain from animal produce from approximately the 6th march, till the 12th. The goals of the event were to bring consciousness to people about what they are eating, and to sensitize people on the issue of animal rights and the effect of animal husbandry on the environment. All participants had to take a photograph of each of their vegan meals to have the chance to win one of the two prizes. At the end of the challenge, Matthew Kelly won a vegan cooking book and Nan Wu won a $50 gift card at a vegan restaurant.
Inspired by the YouTube video “101 reasons to go vegan”, Yulia Yugay decided to put up a vegan challenge at Vanier. ‘’I not only made a personal decision and committed to change my diet but also felt the urge to further convey the eye-opening message to the community,’’ Yugay said. The outcome of the challenge was proven to be a successful with the Facebook group that quickly filled with the tasty-looking vegan meal of the nearly 40 students who took part in it, sharing recipes, advice and information, quickly transforming the group into a Vegan Community. The positive outcome makes Yugay believe that it could be possible to extend the challenge to other CEGEPs in Montreal next year.
In the same week, a talk on veganism was given in the auditorium on the intersectionality between feminism and veganism for Vanier’s woman’s week. Élise Desaulniers was there, an animals right’s activist, food ethicist and feminist who is known as being one of the first authors in Quebec to tackle the subject of veganism in the publication of her books “Je Mange Avec Mon Tête: Les Consquences de nos Choix Alimentaires”, “Cash Cow: Ten Myths about the Dairy Industry”, published in English, and “Le Defi Végane 21 Jours”, expected to release in April this year.
Her talk focused on many of the fundamental reasons why people go vegan: because of compassion towards animals, as well as compassion for the planetShe guided the audience to consider their food choices not as something benign, but instead to see them as ethical choices that “have consequences on not only ourselves, but the planet, humans, and animals as well”.
She then moved on to talk about the similarities between feminism and meat consumption, arguing that the “mechanisms that enables the oppression of women also enables the oppression of animals”. In both cases, whether the victims were cows, pigs, chickens, or women, they were all equally found in our society to be exploited for their bodies, objectified and oppressed. Seeing this as unjust, she encouraged a pull away from the status quo saying that “all forms of oppression must be fought together”.
Written By: Miriam Lafontaine & Sara Fay Moineau