The College Students Who Want You to Pledge Veg

A student-led initiative is encouaging university students around the world to go veg for the month of May.

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Students for Animal Rights (StAR), a coalition uniting activists from university campuses across the country, is promoting its third annual 2010 International College Veg Pledge initiative. The movement calls upon college students to commit to a vegan diet for the month of May, and organizers hope to recruit up to 25,000 students to go meat-free.

Three years ago, StAR was founded in order to unify animal-rights activists at Ivy League universities. Today, the organization has expanded to create a global alliance of compassionate college students. With reps at almost 50 college campuses, students from Argentina, Brazil, Canada, England, Estonia, France, Germany, Mexico, and New Zealand have so far taken the 2010 College Veg Pledge.

Between juggling a full course load, tirelessly campaigning for animal welfare, and preparing for his new job with The Humane League, StAR Outreach Coordinator Kenny Torrella found some time to catch up with VegNews and talk about his efforts with the College Veg Pledge.

VegNews: What are some of the most effective strategies for reaching out to other young people and sharing the veg lifestyle?
Kenny Torrella
: I think it’s important to show people the broad impact of their food choices. I know that most college students want to make a difference in the world, but they just don’t know how, or feel that as individuals they won’t have any real impact.

VN: How is social networking and new media becoming the modern face of animal-rights activism?
: I think footage of factory farming gets students interested in the vegan lifestyle because they see where their food really comes from. And what gets students really excited are vegan food blogs. We’re big fans of Vegan Crunk!

VN: What are some tips for college students ready to go vegan, but not sure how to make it happen?
: It’s important to become a part of your local veg community, whether it’s a student club, a group, or an advocacy organization-try to get involved! Transitioning to veganism was easy for me because I had a community with whom to share recipes, eat and talk. If you’re on the other end, as an organizer, I’ve learned how important it is to build up a community, to make others feel welcome. Host potlucks and parties and get people connected to one another.

VN: How do you see StAR growing?
KT: The core idea of StAR is power in unity. The collegiate movement for farm animals is energized and impassioned, but it is also heavily fragmented. The inevitable result is that college groups all over the map are constantly reinventing the wheel or feeling isolated and powerless and getting burned out. With today’s online social networking tools, there’s no excuse anymore for this sort of fragmentation. There’s no reason why every single college group advocating for farm animals can’t be connected with every other group across the globe. StAR is about cultivating a team spirit and collaborative relationships between college animal advocacy groups, so we can thrive on mutual inspiration, learn from each other’s mistakes, build on each other’s successes, and boost our collective potential.

VN: What do you foresee for the vegan movement in the next 10 years?
KT: I think veganism will continue to become more mainstream. Some of the world’s top celebrities are outspoken about veganism, which not only reaches out to their audience, but also has an impact on our culture as a whole. I also foresee farm animals continually receiving more protection under legislation like California’s Prop 2 and this year’s Ohioans for Humane Farms ballot initiative.

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