By: Emma Braun
Looking at Emma Vo, Miki Salamon, Clare Farrow, Emma Mankin and Marissa Costner, a lot comes to mind. These women are all beautiful, strong, intelligent and friendly. The one word that perhaps doesn’t come to mind, yet describes one of their biggest identifiers, is vegan.
Intensely generalized and often misunderstood, veganism is not merely a diet that eliminates all animal-based products from your meals. Many people that pledge themselves to veganism do so for very real and prevalent reasons that they cannot ignore in their daily lives. These reasons have also led these women, and more than 400 other students at Elon, to serve as part of the Animal Protection Alliance, seeking to bring awareness and activism for the problems facing those who cannot defend themselves.
The Edge: What was the inspiration behind forming the APA?
Clare: We wanted to bring more awareness surrounding animal issues to campus. I was already running SHARE, and had been a part of it since my sophomore year, so it just seemed natural and like a good opportunity to extend that circle of compassion to animals.
The Edge: How would you like to see the APA grow?
Emma M: Part of the way in which the club could grow is through spreading the message that care for animals is really care for us. Most people fell that they should be more invested in the fate of humanity, but, through veganism, I’ve found that is all related; the earth is all about codependency. Our job should be to make that message acceptable.
The Edge: How do you combat the stigma attached to animal rights activist and veganism?
Clare: Veganism as a philosophy is based in peace that was stigmatized by people trying to get involved. We have a lot of events that are intended to create conversation and exposure, and I don’t feel like we are pushing an agenda. We really meet people where they’re at, whatever works for you.
Emma V: A perfect quote for this is, “Activism is the rent I pay for living on this planet,” from Alice Walker. When people bash me, it’s so easy to get mad, but now I just focus on being positive.
The Edge: What do you think is the most vital action we need to take at Elon to make the biggest impact on the issue of animal rights?
Miki: Little subtle changes can help because it makes people think. Education is always one of the best platforms.
Clare: If you eat less meat, that’ll save the most; only one hamburger requires 2500 gallons of water, which is the equivalent to showering for six months straight.
Emma M: Eat less meat in whatever capacity you can.
The Edge: Do you see this lifestyle and the activism that comes with it continuing in your life after you graduate?
Emma V: I’m a cinema major with a minor in public health, so I’d like to work for an animal advocacy group and make videos promoting veganism.
Emma M: It’s really about integrating that mentality into our various fields like incorporating my understanding of the planet into my career.
Photos by Caroline Brehman.