The issue of animal rights is growing in popularity. Many people may want to make a lifestyle change to eat with animal rights in mind, but the passion to do so is not widespread.
For graphic design freshman Madison Phillips, her passion is helping animals.
Phillips has been an animal lover for as long as she can remember. When she was 16 years old, she made the choice to become vegetarian out of respect for animals. At 17, she went even further, going vegan based on her ethical stance toward animal rights.
Shortly after starting at IU Southeast, Phillips noticed there was no campus advocacy group for animal rights.
“I thought that making a club would be a good way to interact with people who feel strongly about animal rights as well and find ways of how we can get involved on campus,” Phillips said.
Phillips led the first Animal Rights Club meeting in January 2019, and they have been active on campus ever since.
Snacks are provided at the club’s meetings, such as a vegan form of Cheez-Itz. Phillips said they help show members that living with a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle does not necessarily mean they cannot enjoy snacks they would usually eat.
The IUS Animal Rights Club has a set of goals that Phillips makes well-known to members old and new.
Inform the campus community about animal rights and welfare.
Support local organizations who advocate for animal rights.
Be kind– “You have to be kind to people in order to be kind to animals,” Phillips.
Have fun being around people with similar values.
The most important goal for the club, according to Phillips, is to spread awareness in a compassionate way.
“My goals for the club are to spread awareness to the ways we use and exploit animals to students and staff,” Phillips said. “The general public can often be oblivious to where their food comes from. I want to let them know that their food was a sentient being who wanted to live.”
“[The general public’s] only experience with veganism is hateful,” said art education freshman Kali Woodrow.
Veganism and Vegetarianism at IU Southeast
Members agree that the Animal Rights Club is a much needed asset on campus.
One member pointed out that there are no vegan food options on campus. She acknowledged there is a veggie burger offered in the cafeteria, but it contains egg, which makes it non-vegan.
However, they said veganism is a growing trend amongst college students and hope to increase its growth on and off campus.
“Veganism is increasing in popularity across America,” said Rebecca Wells-Gonzalez, adjunct communications professor.
Making the Decision to Switch
Phillips said she used to ignore the issues of animal welfare and knows it is an uncomfortable topic to discuss. However, she is happy someone informed her so she could make an ethical choice and go vegan.
“Everyone makes many decisions everyday, most of us make an unconscious decision three times a day, I used to as well,” Phillips said. “I completely understand. The main purpose for the Animal Rights Club is to make those three unconscious decisions three conscious decisions.”
“Be aware of what you are eating and why you are eating it and be open to try and make better, more ethical decisions for the animals,” she said.
In the future, Phillips said she would like to see the club educating the campus community by going over personal goals, talking about ways people can get involved in animals’ rights in their everyday lives (such as being aware of their food choices) and buying products that are cruelty-free.
For students who wish to join or learn more about the Animal Rights Club, they can find the club on Grenadier Central. Students and faculty interested in the organization are also encouraged to follow their Instagram page for events and general club updates at @iusanimalrightsclub.