Opinion: Creating community through ethical eating
The Duluth Vegan Community Facebook page has over 160 members. A vegan is a person who does not eat or use animal products, including meat, dairy, eggs, honey, wool, leather, fur, down, and silk. Six percent of food shoppers now hold the title of vegan, up from just one percent in 2014, according to a recent report.
“I created the group because I am passionate about community building, especially around living shared values,” group admin Angelina Peluso said. “Having a space to vent about the experience of identifying yourself as vegan can be invaluable to folks who get a lot of flack from family and friends. It can also serve as a space to get more information about health, recipes, sustainability, and the politics of veganism.”
The group is public and holds plant-based potlucks and a book club, where members can join together to share their experiences, knowledge, recipes and support.
According to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, “Vegan diets are growing in popularity today among teenagers and youth, especially females. For many vegans, nutritional choices center around taking better care of the earth's resources and the environment, ethical issues about animal care, the use of antibiotics and growth stimulants for the production of animals, the threat of animal-borne diseases, and the health advantages of a plant-based diet.”
Duluth resident Menique Koos finds it important that all living things deserve a happy life.
“I had to watch the documentary ‘Cowspiracy’ for my Sustainable Foods Systems class and I became vegan overnight,” Duluth resident Menique Koos said.
Koos experienced positive changes in her health after becoming vegan.
“I haven’t had a cold or been sick since,” Koos said. “I’m a lot more energetic.”
Duluth resident McKayla Stowe transitioned from being a vegetarian to being vegan in January of 2015 for ethical reasons.
“I have more energy, clearer skin and have lost 20 pounds,” Stowe said.
According to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, vegan diets include a higher intake of dietary fibers and other essential nutrients. They tend to have a lower intake in calories, saturated fat and cholesterol, which are usually high factors in several chronic diseases.
“I’ve definitely noticed how much better I feel since going vegan, and also mentally, knowing that I’m living a cruelty-free life,” vegan Jennifer Carlson said.
Carlson has been vegan for seven years. Visiting the Woodstock Farm Sanctuary in New York was an influential part of her vegan journey.
“Meeting the animals and putting their faces together with their stories immediately made me turn to veganism,” Carlson said.
“I’m not sacrificing anything,” Carlson said. “There’s so many alternatives now that the transition is a breeze.”
Duluth resident Cassaundra Groom recommends that anyone interested in becoming vegan watches the movie Earthlings and joins a vegan challenge such as Veganuary.
“The more you know, the easier it’ll be,” Groom said. “Don’t be afraid to change or make a mistake. You’re probably going to have something in your cupboard at some point that is non vegan and you just don’t know it yet. Don’t sweat it. Just make a swap when you find out.”
There are multiple restaurants in Duluth that have great vegan options, including Juice Pharm, Sarah’s Table and Pizza Luce. If you are interested in veganism, consider reaching out to the Duluth Vegan Community on facebook for inspiration and a supportive community.