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Veganism and Intersectionality: A Conversation with @VegFSU President Tori Noon

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at FSU chapter.

As more people are becoming aware of the various benefits of going vegan, the popularity of plant-based diets is growing immensely. However, the topic is still controversial and there are many different factors to consider when it comes to things like the ethicality and accessibility of plant-based diets. I wanted to learn more, so I had the pleasure of sitting down with Tori Noon, the president of an on-campus club called VegFSU. Tori (they/them) is a junior family child sciences and psychology double-major who wants to become a BSBA (Board Certified Behavior Analyst) in the future. I was absolutely blown away by their knowledge about the subject and their passion for veganism, which was so evident throughout our whole conversation. 

Her Campus (HC): How long have you been vegan yourself? 

Tori Noon (TN): I became vegan my sophomore summer going into my junior year of high school, so it’s been a while. 

HC: Why did you go vegan?

TN: I first became vegan in sixth grade for a month after watching Food Inc. for class. I thought it was so hard because I was like 12 or 13 and buying the most expensive products and going to Greenwise and Whole Foods. So that didn’t last long. Then, almost into my junior year, I had obviously been thinking about it for a long time, then I did go cold turkey because I didn’t really eat meat already because I didn’t like it. One of the biggest factors in why I decided to go vegan was also health concerns, because my family has a really bad history of heart disease. Me going vegan also just came along with a lot of education on farmworkers’ rights, animal rights and environmental factors. I did a lot of researching things myself. 

HC: How hard has it been to stay vegan? 

TN: It hasn’t been hard to stay vegan at all. Just with my own education, there’s not going to be a point in my life where I eat meat again. However, I do have to admit that when I first went vegan, basically all I ate was rice, beans and corn. It was hard in the beginning because I had to experiment and try different foods because I was the only one in my family who had any dietary restrictions. It was challenging to find something of substance with nutritional value then cook it myself. After the first few weeks though, it was nothing. 

HC: What are some ethical things to consider when talking about veganism? 

TN: You obviously have to acknowledge the privilege that comes along with being vegan, because being vegan is not accessible to everyone, especially in low-income households. People who receive food stamps or social security do not have access to certain healthy foods. Also, even though being vegan directly helps reduce the consumption of animal products and environmental consequences, you still have to think about where your food is coming from. Unless you have your own sustainable garden, you are getting your food from a grocery store, so along with that comes farmer rights and human rights. If you’re so concerned with animal rights, you can’t overlook human rights because I think that’s so hypocritical and ignorant. 

HC: Speaking of accessibility, how easy do you think it is for the average college student to be vegan, specifically at Florida State? 

TN: I lived in a dorm freshman year and it was so hard, especially because I didn’t have a car and when I would go into the dining hall, I would eat the same thing every day. I just ate the veggie burger and maybe had a little sandwich from the deli or some salad. They didn’t have a lot of vegan replacements for what everyone else was eating, which was a big problem for me because it goes directly against the inclusivity I strive for. There are also obviously not a lot of vegan options on campus. In the dining hall, they would serve wet tofu with sesame seeds. So, it’s not impossible to stay vegan if you live on campus, but it’s very challenging. However, if you’re able to go to the grocery store and cook, you’re fine. 

HC: Do you think your grocery budget is reasonable for the average college student? 

TN: Oh yeah it is definitely reasonable. Especially now that Aldi is up here, I can get everything I need from there for about $80 for a week’s amount of groceries. I also don’t go shopping every single week. I actually end up spending less than a lot of people.

HC: What are some changes you think FSU Dining could make to make being vegan easier for students? 

TN: One of my problems was that some of the things that were labeled as vegan were not vegan. They would often have milk and eggs in them. Unless I asked, it would be presented as vegan, which is not good. I also had a problem that there were only one or two entrees at the dining hall for you to pick from, while everyone else had so many different options. I’m not going to eat a salad every single day. There are also very few vegan options at the on-campus restaurants, like 1851, the Den, Einstein Bros and Chick-fil-a. 

HC: Tell me about VegFSU. What is your purpose or mission? 

TN: VegFSU is a club that is not only for vegan and vegetarian individuals. Our main goals are focusing on intersectionality, educating the public on sustainability and ending speciesism. We also do a lot of community outreach and help houseless individuals. We partner with “Food Not Bombs,” which makes all-vegan meals for houseless individuals and provides them with clothing and sanitary products. We want to break the stereotype that our club is just the vegan club because we are really trying to move on from that. 

HC: What has VegFSU done so far? 

TN: We have GBMs (general body meetings) every other Tuesday and we have socials on the off-weeks. We focus on different things that relate to things like the community, health and the environment. For example, we have a professor that is coming in to speak at our next GBM who is going to discuss the ethical side and differing views of going vegan. In our last GBM, we played a women’s achievements Kahoot game for Women’s History month and had a potluck. Everything isn’t just vegan. We’re also going to volunteer at an animal shelter in a few weeks. 

HC: If someone wanted to get involved with VegFSU, what is the best way they could do that? 

TN: We always suggest that you follow our Instagram first because we post everything on there, and also add yourself to GroupMe. They should come out and bring their friends to our GBMs and social events. We want to be a tight, close-knit club because it can be hard to find other people with the same values as you. 

Follow @VegFSU on Instagram to get involved and learn more! 

Disclaimer: Some of the interview has been edited for conciseness and clarity. 

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Freshman pre-nursing major at Florida State University who loves thrifting and astrology and is especially passionate about environmental advocacy and animal rights.