Increased energy, radiant skin and decreased health issues are just a few reasons that many people have opted to live a plant-based lifestyle. What began as a niche food trend is now a swiftly growing lifestyle choice in the U.S., according to Nielsen.
Additionally, data released by the Good Food Institute shows that dollar sales of plant-based food, such as soy burgers and coconut milk yogurt, have increased 31% within the past two years.
With an increased interest in veganism, activism has spread to Georgia State’s student body. Hannah Jones is the president of the People for the End of Animal Cruelty and Exploitation (PEACE) Club at Georgia State. The club’s focus is on animal rights, veganism, environmentalism and overall health.
Carrie Freeman, PEACE Club advisor, has been a vegan since her PETA internship 23 years ago. She has advised the club for the past three years and enjoys seeing students interested in social advocacy.
“My favorite thing about PEACE Club is how passionate so many students are about changing oppressive institutions and their own personal habits to be compassionate and just toward fellow animals,” Freeman said. “This generation really cares and wants social change.”
The PEACE Club invites various guest speakers to attend the meetings to discuss topics ranging from healthy veganism tips, fitness and local animal sanctuaries. While most of the events revolve around the discussion of adopting a plant-based diet, attendance is open to herbivores and omnivores alike.
The club also discusses social issues surrounding choosing a life of veganism.
“We had a documentary screening last semester on ‘The Invisible Vegan,’ which is about black vegan culture and creating a more inclusive vegan community,” Jones said. “… Veganism can seem so expensive, or only for people with a certain income, but we’re trying to make it more approachable.”
Jones adds that roughly 50 to 70 students join the club with each Student Organization Fair, which she sees as representative of the growth of veganism on a larger scale.
“We were really the first [club] at Georgia State to be on this topic,” she said. “It’s nice to see how much the organization is growing because it reflects how the vegan movement, animal rights and environmentalism are growing, especially within our generation.”
Douglas Young is a vegan not only in his dietary choices but also in his profession. Young is the creator of a local event called the Indie Green Festival at East Point.
In just five months, Young has hosted three Indie Green Festivals throughout Georgia. This event includes live music and vendors ranging from vegan restaurants, sustainable clothing shops and animal sanctuary activist groups.
Young decided to go vegan three years ago after realizing the health benefits of living free of animal products. After attending local vegan events, he noticed that each festival required an entrance fee. This realization was the catalyst that led him to create a free vegan event to help make veganism more accessible to the public.
For Young, the pursuit of veganism and the goals of his Indie Green Festival are multifaceted.
“The focus is really to promote living well, being sustainable in the choices we make, recycling and, overall, have compassionate love for ourselves, as well as the planet and animals,” Young said. “I also want to bring the community together as a whole.”
Freeman’s viewpoint of veganism resembles Young’s plant-based priorities. She believes that veganism serves to “protect fellow animals, our environment and human health.”
For those interested in learning more about the pursuit of veganism, Young and Jones recommend watching the documentary “What the Health.”