by Courtney Cleveland
The word around campus is that a new vegan club is forming. However, the club, Plant Based at Millsaps, was founded last year by Bailey Smith and Adria Walker (disclosure: Walker is the P&W’s news editor). The overall purpose of the club is to spread awareness and promote both vegetarian and vegan lifestyles, but, according to freshman anthropology major, Amena Jamila, anyone is welcome to join.
“We mainly want to spread awareness of the animal, agriculture and food industry and how it could affect our health and environment in general,” Jamila said. “We want to promote vegetarian and vegan diets and lifestyles and show that there are alternatives to other foods and clothing.”
Jamila’s reason for joining is simple. “I’m very passionate about veganism and animal rights and I wanted to promote those things,” she said.
Another freshman, applied mathematics major, Vajresh Balaji, is a vegetarian and joined because of his religious beliefs; he follows Hinduism.
“I have been vegetarian all my life. Because of my religious beliefs, I cannot consume meat and being vegetarian is something that I consider a huge part of myself,” Balaji said. “The vegan and vegetarian group is keen to make the campus aware about these needs, and I wanted to be a part of it as it is something I truly believe in.”
Vegans believe animals should not suffer, be harmed or killed. They do not eat any foods that come from animals, including fish, meat, eggs, honey, dairy products or shellfish. Vegans do not use or wear clothing that comes from animals. That includes wool, silk, fur and leather materials and anything with feathers. Vegetarians opt out of eating anything that contains meat. Both groups can, however, eat plant foods, hence the name “Plant Based at Millsaps.” That includes foods such as cereal, fruits, vegetables, seeds, nuts and herbs and spices.
So far, there are 33 members, and the club is growing. In addition, the club is currently working on expanding access to vegetarian and vegan foods on campus.
Balaji noticed several problems in the caf regarding protocol when handling vegetarian meals. “When I first came to Millsaps, I was shocked at how unfriendly the cafeteria is with regards to accommodations for special dietary needsBalaji said. “[There] is no separate section of the grill where only vegetarian food is cooked. I cannot eat something which has been cooked along with meat and that was a huge sacrifice that I had to make when coming to Millsaps.”
The club notices problems of that nature and are working with both the caf and the co-op close to campus to gain more food options. “We recently just started getting active. We have been trying to work with the caf to get better vegetarian and vegan options for the students on campus. We have tried to get Rainbow, the co-op in Fondren, to work with the caf and supply us with some food,” Jamila said.