“Getting Veganspired”: Working for Food Justice Post-JVC
They say the only thing vegans regret is not having made the change sooner.
For me, that’s true.
At first, I didn’t really want to know the truth. Most people don’t.
Because if you’re willfully blind, your conscience won’t compel you to act. You can avoid the discomfort of cognitive dissonance.
We’d prefer to keep enjoying our favorite meals as we’ve always had them, thank you very much. Let’s not have that conversation about how the industrial production of meat, fish, dairy and eggs causes impending extinction-level climate change, Western chronic diseases and sacrifices our values at our dinner plates.
But it’s time to take off the blinders. The fate of our planet, our health and countless humans and animals depends on it.
A gradual transition
I’ve changed gradually, over the years. From omnivore, to pescatarian, to mostly vegan-at-home, to fully committing a couple years ago.
For me, it took sixteen years of seeds being planted and taking small steps towards a plant-based diet.
Looking back, though, I truly believe that if I had read resources that clearly laid out the irrefutable case for veganism or just seen a compelling documentary, I would have made the shift much more quickly.
From research to outreach
As a vegetarian during my JV year in San Francisco from 2017-2018, I’d frequently have discussions with my community about animal rights. But at the time, I didn’t know the harsh truth about the dairy or egg industries.
I didn’t also didn’t know how wrapped up our animal-based food system is in the climate crisis, environmental racism, social injustice for humans and animals, our chronic disease burden, world hunger, pandemic risk and growing antibiotic resistance.
After taking a deep dive into documentaries, books and podcasts on the topic, I couldn’t believe that so few people knew about or acted on such a pressing issue.
I was fired up.
To channel my drive and sense of urgency, I began researching and writing for about a year on my blog, Veganspired. Next, I started creating public speaking opportunities to present on how our food choices impact social justice, climate justice, health justice and how plant-based nutrition prevents and treats chronic disease.
Trying my hand at YouTube video creation, I posted The Ultimate Case for Veganism in 5 ½ Minutes. I inspired my husband and my parents to adopt plant-based diets along with me. Then, I started working as a copywriter on the side for a company called Vkind that promotes plant-based businesses.
Recently, I earned a certificate in Lifestyle Medicine from the American College of Lifestyle Medicine and submitted an oral public comment to the Dietary Guidelines Advisory committee, which influences the Federal Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
Currently, I'm organizing a Vegan Chef Challenge for restaurants in my home city of Raleigh and working with a group on an initiative called Plant-Based for the Planet to promote more plant-based options in restaurants. Lastly, I'm in the process of initiating a Food Justice Coalition at a local church.
And, of course, I’m reaching out to you, the JV and FJV community.
People who I know share these values and are determined to act for justice in our daily lives.
Choosing plant-based meals is the one choice we make multiple times a day that simultaneously fights the climate crisis, world hunger, pandemics, antibiotic resistance, environmental racism, our risk of disease, and promotes compassion and kindness in our food system.
If I’ve learned anything in my food justice journey so far, it’s this:
People are sometimes afraid to adopt a plant-based eating pattern out of fear they’ll feel deprived. But veganism is not about deprivation.
Rather, veganism is about abundance: abundant compassion, abundant culinary discovery, abundant health, the preservation of our only home, and the prevailing of our values.
Ready to act for food justice?
(And discover free resources and ideas for incredibly delicious plant-based cooking!)
Join me and the JV/FJV community for a virtual presentation - email fjvs@jesuitvolunteers to RSVP and we will reach out soon to confirm date/time!
Cheers to learning and growing together,
Colleen Kane served as a JV with 30th Street Senior Center in San Francisco, CA from 2017-18. Currently, Colleen works to grow awareness and action in her local community and beyond about the connection between our food system and social justice, climate justice and health justice.