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Can You be an Environmentalist and Still Eat Animal Products?

Hey Her Campus readers!

I’m Prina from VegSoc and I’m here to chat a little bit about how veganism, sustainability and the climate crisis link in together. I also want to chat about the changes we should be making in our daily lives, including our eating habits. The word ‘vegan’ seems to ignite a whole range of emotions in people from pure anger, to annoyance, to laughter, but hopefully throughout the rest of this article you’ll get to understand why I am so passionate about veganism and why I believe it’s a vital bit of the puzzle in moving towards a more peaceful and sustainable world.

First, let’s talk about the science (after all I am a geoscience student ;)). The science is clear – animal agriculture industries are one of the leading causes of environmental destruction; it causes ~15% of greenhouse gas emissions, deforestation, water pollution, depletion of freshwater resources and ocean dead zones. These facts are backed by a lot of peer-reviewed science, with one very comprehensive paper being: “Options for keeping the food system within environmental limits” by Springmann et al. (Definitely give this a read if you’re not convinced about the devastating impact of animal agriculture. Or, watch Cowspiracy for an easy-to-watch documentary on netflix and chill night!)

But will one person adopting a plant based diet do anything? Or do the corporations and governments have to do everything? The way I see it, lifestyle change and systemic change should not and cannot be mutually exclusive. Of course we must fight for climate justice, hold powerful corporations to account and campaign for change in whatever way we can. But we can make a difference with our lifestyle choices too.

Many of us are extremely privileged in that we live a life of choice and plenty. Every time we buy something we are choosing to support the ethics of that product. Those without this choice, who live in poorer countries, are being hit hardest by the devastating consequences of climate change with the future only looking to get worse. This realisation isn’t intended to make us feel down about the situation, but rather to empower us to realise that as consumers we can make huge changes towards a more sustainable world.

I won’t talk too much about the animal ethics (though I could write pages!) but will leave us with a couple of questions to ask ourselves. How can we create a peaceful society, with equality for all, while exploiting and abusing the most vulnerable, innocent beings? What is the difference between a dog or a pig’s ability to feel pain that makes it abhorrent to slaughter one but not the other?

And finally, I have to give a little plug to VegSoc. This society has introduced me to some of the most incredible people, who I now get to call close friends –  it is a wonderful community of like-minded people who strive to cause the least harm they can and support each other in doing so. We run a bunch of different events from weekly breakfast club where we discuss a different topic each meeting, to film screenings, to activism to stop the exploitation of animals. Of course, we also put on socials where we eat absolutely delicious food from all the best places in Bristol! We are always open to new members.

If you’ve read this far thank you so much and I hope it’s been interesting to you in some way. This is obviously a very brief article and if you would like to chat more about this issue drop me a message. 

With compassion and love,

Prina ([email protected]


This article is part of HC Bristol’s Sustainability themed week.


Prina Sumaria

Bristol '20

Animal rights and environmental activist studying Environmental Geoscience
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