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Young: Being a true vegan isn’t easy

When I learned that the Golden Globes, held at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Los Angeles, would be serving a vegan meal to the 1,300 attendees, I immediately thought of a friend’s stories from her years as an undergrad at University of California Berkley.

This friend, now a science teacher, moved from the Midwest to the West Coast in the early ‘90s to pursue an education in the field of science. Her roommate, who came from the East Coast, had apparently come to UC Berkley with an interest in science, as well. The roommate had a penchant for chemistry. Or, perhaps better stated, a penchant for chemicals.

The roommate greatly enjoyed experimenting with a variety of drugs. She was enthralled with the whole counter-culture movement of the ‘60s and fancied herself a free thinker. The roommate’s antics are central to many of my friend’s memories from her first year at Berkley.

As a free thinker, the roommate, although already a practicing vegetarian, decided that she could not bear the thought of using animal products in any way.

I am a firm believer that it is an adult human’s right to choose what they eat and what they drink. And if they want to practice veganism, that is 100% their choice.

The roommate told my friend that as an ethical vegan, she saw veganism as more than a diet. Veganism, she explained, had become her lifestyle. It was her philosophy of choice.

My friend smiled as her roommate cleaned out her closet, tossing all clothing containing animal products. The roommate tossed her leather belts, bags and shoes. My friend noticed that the roommate kept a wool scarf that she would need for a winter visit back to the East Coast.

The roommate continued to burn beeswax candles that she lit with wooden matches. Although the roommate enjoyed chemistry and chemicals, she also loved photojournalism.

In that time before digital cameras had taken over, many a roll of film was purchased and developed by the roommate. My friend didn’t mention to the roommate that beeswax, matches and camera film are all made of animal products.

Truly being a vegan cannot be easy. Animal products are used in everything from porcelain to chewing gum, deodorant to biodiesel and antifreeze to insulation.

I find it hard to believe that there are very many “true” vegans when there is a use, as well as a need, for everything except the oink and moo.

Featuring a vegan meal at The Golden Globes isn’t a big deal. Using it as a platform to blame animal agriculture for climate change is ludicrous. Despite claims to the contrary, animal agriculture in the United States contributes a very small part to greenhouse gases.

If celebrities want to make a positive difference for the environment, the first step would be to give up private jets and limousines that carried them to the Golden Globes and all those other fancy-pants events.

Cyndi Young-Puyear is farm director and operations manager for Brownfield Network.

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