Written by: Camila Fernandez/PR Representative
Much has happened this spring at Florida International University, where the new Plant-Based Society Club has garnered more than 100 members.
The club began with a merge between the Plant-Based Society Club and the Vegan/Vegetarian Society. Since then, the club has hosted different events to promote their cause against eating or using animal products.
Plant-Based Society is led by club President, Stephanie Bird and Vice-President, Sarah Bird, two sisters, who are passionate about sustainability. Both traveled to Thailand, where Thai food, like other Asian cuisines, can easily be vegan. Vegan food include, rice, noodles, vegetables and no cheese, butter or milk.
PBS has worked with different campus organizations, like the FIU Garden Club, which hosts an organic farmer’s market every Wednesday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. near the University’s Green Library.
The two clubs have raised funds together selling organic and vegan foods on campus, like peanut butter and chocolate Buckeye Balls.
“I first went vegan my freshman year at FIU, almost three years ago,” said Sarah Bird, a junior environmental engineering major.
Sarah said she met vegan students during a road trip to Pittsburg, Pennsylvania for an environmental leadership summit. She said they inspired to live a plant-based lifestyle, which allows her to make an impact on health and the environment.
According to Food Navigator USA, 36 percent of U.S. consumers either prefer milk alternative and use meat alternatives, which is substantially greater than those who claim they are vegan at 7 percent.
“I feel better than ever since going vegan. [The club] is here to support anyone interested in living a healthier, greener, and more compassionate lifestyle in whatever way we can,” Sarah said.
The clubs also worked to fight against developers and administration on campus, who are currently building athletic facilities at the University’s Nature Preserve at the Modesto A. Maidique Campus.
A petition was created to show the number of students who opposed the plan.
During the semester, PBS and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) 2, have worked closely together to promote veganism. PETA 2 is similar to PETA, which promotes animal rights campaigns, which include ending fur and leather use and meat and dairy consumption.
PETA 2 representative, Erica Melamed, helped host Humane Meat April Fools on April 1. Nearly 50 people participated at the tabling event, which was funded by PETA 2. Free vegan meat was offered, and a petition on getting more vegan options on campus brought attention.
The club and PETA 2 also hosted a Rainforest Tarp Demo event, where about 100 people participated. A red tarp was used to demonstrate how eating meat destroys a certain amount of rainforest every 1/10 of a second.
Food was funded by PETA 2, and several members from PBS brought homemade food.
“A lot of people were a bit confused on the statistics of the demo, but after some quick research, I was able to come up with a short monologue to tell people about how much they make sense,” said Melamed.
“Many of the members were actually very interested in learning how to go right out and speak to people and have the confidence to do it. This event was so much fun and a really great way to get people to notice us and come speak with us about the issue,” she said.
PBS and PETA 2 have also hosted several film screenings, like Cowspiracy and Vegucated. On April 26, both will host a Meat-Out day event, where they’ve used the hashtag #DaretobePlantBased. Speakers include James Wildman, Animal Rights Foundation of Florida humane educator and Elyssa Diehl, Humane League SouthFlorida Grassroots director.
With hopes to continue to grow and promote sustainability and plant-based diets, PBS will continue their progress as one of few vegan clubs on campus.