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‘Bad Vegan’ is the best kind of vegan

A new approach to veganism that is welcoming to all

<p>Fourth-year College student Haley Edmonds developed the concept of Bad Vegan in an effort to destigmatize the concept of veganism.&nbsp;</p>

Fourth-year College student Haley Edmonds developed the concept of Bad Vegan in an effort to destigmatize the concept of veganism. 

The lifestyle of a college student is not one that easily supports veganism. From late-night bites to dining hall limitations, it may seem impossible at first sight. I myself am not vegan, but when I heard about the organization Bad Vegan, it made me want to try.  

Fourth-year College student Haley Edmonds developed the concept of Bad Vegan in an effort to destigmatize the concept of veganism. Not all vegans mention their diet every 20 minutes or shame their friends for eating meat — being vegan doesn’t have to be your whole identity.  

Bad Vegan has yet to be established as a CIO but will still be an active organization hoping to make a change around Grounds without reliance on university funding. Currently, there are around 23 members. 

The goal of Bad Vegan is spread across four fields — change the rhetoric around veganism, shift the perception of veganism from a niche group of hippies and protesters to something more applicable to our generation, change the food industry and change the world. 

Edmonds discussed the goals of the organization and defined the Bad Vegan lifestyle. She explained how the concept of bad veganism is centered around the idea that no matter what your effort is, it counts. You don’t have to be the perfect vegan — you just have to do your best. 

“Someone who eats plant-based half of the time is not 50 percent a failure at veganism, but 50 percent successful at being a conscious consumer, meaning being ‘bad’ is actually ... good,” Edmonds said. 

Edmonds also mentioned that a plant-based lifestyle can be a form of climate activism. According to Edmonds, “Between 14 to 18 percent of global carbon emissions come from animal agriculture” and this percentage is “more than the total emissions from the transportation sector combined.” Staying away from animal products is an easy personal choice that could make a huge difference in your carbon footprint. 

One member, fourth-year College student Mercer Craighill recently made the shift to a vegan diet after spending her summer working on a farm. Craighill emphasized the individual aspects of veganism and its impact on the world. 

“We have a lot of effect and choice,” Craighill said. “Our dollar fuels the economy. My choice to not eat meat or dairy products feels cleaner. I feel I am intentionally choosing what goes inside of my body, leaving a smaller carbon impact, not ingesting violence, setting an example and protesting the common culture.”

Bad Vegan hopes to spread its influence across the local community by raising money for local programs that support animal rights, access to healthy food in low-income areas, environmental conservation and much more.

Bad Vegan is structured in a “stream” method. Edmonds compared many of the other organizations and CIOs at the University to “a body of water, like a pond ... it's still a good populace and a good amount of potential within that but it’s static … and it's not growing.” 

The idea of following a “stream” method means that this organization can disseminate into multiple directions and cover larger ground, even if it's only happening at a trickle. The stream leaders are University members from a wide array of relationships with plant-based eating which allows them to appeal to a wide audience of prospective members. 

From these leaders, Bad Vegan will grow by word-of-mouth and can attract many different types of prospective members.

Stream leaders also meet with each other to organize and plan challenges, activities and partnerships. Within the streams, members are encouraged to nominate and invite friends and acquaintances to join. This direct line of contact encourages accountability. Having a friend asking about the new weekly challenges — for example, eating a vegan breakfast for a week or trying to go dairy-free — and doing them with you makes it all the more enjoyable. Every stream leader is in charge of organizing meetings, as each stream essentially acts as a mini club. While each stream may organize meetings differently, this method allows for an overall larger network and support system. 

“I love that the group is organized around encouragement, goal-setting and relationship-building rather than requirements and hierarchy,” said Avery Finkelson, third-year Batten student. This peer-to-peer relationship within the group fosters a sense of community. 

Bad Vegan appeals to a wide range of audiences, not just those who are vegan for moral reasons. It’s a great community of environmental rights activists, animal lovers and those who just want to eat a little better. 

Edmonds also shared some advice for those interested in adopting a vegan lifestyle. 

“I feel like once you purchase vegan options and that's what you're choosing from from your fridge, the rest just falls into place,” Edmonds said. “You don't really think about it — you only have to make that decision once.”

Fourth-year College student Rachel Varon took the initiative to reach out to restaurants on the Corner about a launch party, set to happen by the end of the month. 

“We want to have an event that highlights the vegan options on the menus of the restaurants of the Corner in a fun social way,” Varon said. 

Furthermore, Edmonds emphasized the importance of repetition when asking restaurants or businesses to expand their plant-based options. Edmonds has faced stubbornness and opposition when requesting vegan options, often being met with the response, “We're not going to change everything just for one person.” The way to combat this resistance is by advocacy. If one person asks for change, the demand isn’t substantial, but if restaurants and local businesses are asked often about plant-based choices, they just might make that change.