SOAR says: Try 30-day Vegan Pledge

Asia Brown | Contributing Writer

Through the month of April, Students Organizing for Animal Rights (SOAR) will be hosting a Vegan Pledge program. The program consists of weekly meetings, and the organization will discuss topics of ethics, health, environmentalism and daily living issues.

UNC Wilmington’s SOAR is partnering with the Peace Advocacy Network (PAN) “to promote a peaceful society through veganism, social justice and respect for the Earth’s people and animals.” 

 According to PAN’s website, participants in the Vegan Pledge program will have access to an experienced vegan mentor, cooking demonstrations, optional social events, and a free care package to make the vegan diet easier during the 30 days. 

UNC Wilmington is one of few places that has taken up PAN’s Vegan Pledge. Other cities that are going vegan for the 30-day challenge include Chicago, New York City, Miami, the DC-Metro area, Philadelphia and Chapel Hill.  

Kayla Wingard, UNCW president of SOAR, says that she was inspired to go vegan after seeing a movie about meat consumption nearly a decade ago.

“About nine years ago, I saw a film similar to ’Earthlings,’ and the unnecessary cruelty we inflict on animals did not sit well with me,” Wingard said. “So I chose veganism to best match my feelings with my actions.” 

Some UNCW vegan students, unaffiliated with SOAR, provided insight into the life of a vegan. Emma Newell, a sophomore, says that the movie documentary, “Food Ink,” inspired her to become vegan during her freshman year at UNCW.

“First I started out eating free-range meat and then became a vegetarian,” Newell said. “… I decided that I didn’t want to eat meat because I didn’t want to hurt any animals.” 

To avoid the challenges of finding vegan meals around campus, Newell, who lives on campus, says that she cooks a lot at her apartment.  

For senior Troy Coleman adopting a vegan lifestyle has greatly improved his overall health. 

“I never feel sick or sluggish after a meal anymore,” Coleman said. “I rarely get sick…and when I do, it lasts only a day or two because my body isn’t processing junk food and animal fats.”

Erin Strickland, an alumni of UNCW, said that while scanning every food label for meat or animal products is one of the greatest challenges for vegans, she is learning to overcome that obstacle.

“[Veganism] is quite healthy–as you aren’t consuming any cholesterol,” Strickland said. “Dairy has been linked to higher rates of inflammation, which is why allergy sufferers are advised to avoid it during [seasons] when their allergies are worse.” 

While Newell, Coleman and Strickland have all enjoyed their vegan lifestyles, they do not condemn other people who are meat eaters.

 “I’m not super intense—like PETA– [saying] ‘I can’t believe you’re eating meat,’” Newell said, adding that she would instead encourage students to try eating vegan in order to gain knowledge of what foods they are putting in their bodies. 

For Wingard, spreading awareness of a healthy lifestyle through SOAR will benefit the entire planet.

“Through action and educational outreach, advocate a means of healthy, compassionate and ecological living,” Wingard said.

Coleman concludes that the reason for students to adopt a vegan lifestyle is twofold.

“First, you get to feel [a] better quality of health, such as insanely reduced risks for several diseases later in life,” Coleman said. “Second, by moving away from an animal based diet, you can remove yourself from the animal suffering that happens in our factory farming industry.” 

Students who are interested in joining UNCW’s SOAR Vegan Pledge program can sign up here.