For the first time at TWU, there is a vegan vegetarian organization on campus, or VVO for short. Sophomore Business and Nutrition major Shiraz Soltani started looking into creating a community for vegan and vegetarian students during her first year on campus. This year, she has made a safe haven for vegans and vegetarians a reality, where they can share recipes, trade information and unite in activism. “I was so passionate about it, I just had to. Nothing worth it comes easy…It was too important not to be started,” she said.
As a vegetarian on campus, I have felt alone before, so when I saw Soltani’s poster in the Blagg-Huey Library, I was filled with a sensation of something near to joy. I invited her to meet with me at the fountain last Friday and chat about her lifestyle.
Soltani became a vegan about two years ago: “I chose the vegan lifestyle when I started learning about what happens with animals, and the agriculture, and when it comes to our health and the environment. I started to watch documentaries and reading books about it. It started getting to me, to the point where eating meat started actually grossing me out.”
She shared that she had thought becoming a vegetarian was enough until she started doing more research. “I knew in my heart that I wanted to be vegan,” Soltani explained. For her, it was a choice based on her conscience and a sense of responsibility for the state of our planet.
While some vegetarians or vegans seem to have a superiority complex about people who become vegan/vegetarian for solely health reasons, Soltani had a positive outlook: “I think it leads to a domino effect, honestly, because the more they get into it, the more they realize the bigger picture. It’s more than just health, it’s also saving the planet, really.”
Soltani has a theory, that if more people were to live a vegan/vegetarian lifestyle, the less people will buy meat and, therefore, institutions that take advantage of animal lives will close down — also promoting a healthier planet. “We’re basically voting with what we buy. If I want Domino’s pizza, if I keep purchasing it, it’s going to keep being in business. But if I stop, or go down to Domino’s to get their vegan pizza, because they’re allowing that competition to be there, that’s okay. They know, they keep track of that stuff.”
Her advice, for people interested in changing their lifestyle to vegan or vegetarianism, is to educate yourself. The first time Soltani became a vegetarian, she said she reverted back to her old ways. Soltani attributed this to her own lack of education and motivation. She emphasized that it is harder to maintain a lifestyle when you are just looking to lose weight, it’s not a diet or fad and it is easy to make up excuses.
“I don’t ever see myself going back, I think it’s one of the greatest decisions I’ve ever made,” expressed Soltani. VVO meets every other Tues. at 8 p.m. On Nov. 1, they will be in the Free Speech Area passing out informational flyers and answering questions about their lifestyle. VVO will also be hosting a Fall Potluck soon. For more information, like them on Facebook, Veg Org of North Texas or Instagram, VVOTWU.