Vegan Congress takes form at Emily Carr University of Art + Design

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As an artist, Julie Andreyev explores animal agency and consciousness in her work.

According to the associate professor at Emily Carr University of Art + Design, humans need to rethink their relationships with other animals in their everyday lives.

Andreyev is one of the founders of the Vegan Congress—a new group composed of faculty, staff, and students at the Vancouver postsecondary institution—which is set to launch next week.

“I’ve noticed that there are a lot of students who are vegetarians or vegans, but there isn’t an organized group of support here,” Andreyev said by phone from the Granville Island campus. “I know that, becoming vegan, it can be quite challenging if you don’t have other people to sort of help you make decisions or point to alternatives.”

In a joint interview, Andreyev and her fellow Vegan Congress cofounder Trudy Chalmers told the Georgia Straight that the group came together in September 2013 and plans to hold monthly events at the university.

On Wednesday (January 22) from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., the group is staging a vegan food tasting and raw cooking demonstration at Intersections Digital Studios (Room 285D). The launch event will include samples from Eternal Abundance and Fairy Cakes, and a demo and talk by OrganicLives founder Preet Marwaha.

According to Andreyev, one of the Vegan Congress’s objectives is to “demystify” veganism, which is the practice of abstaining from consuming and using products derived from or tested on animals.

“Students are receptive to looking at alternative thought, alternative ideas, alternative outlooks on the world, and so I think the educational community is a really good place to start for presenting different means of being in the world,” Andreyev said.

Chalmers—an administrative assistant in the deans office, opera singer, and jewellery designer—noted that adopting a vegan lifestyle can benefit a person’s health, animals, and the environment.

“You can’t go wrong really going into this kind of lifestyle, because you’ve got so many things that are helping people and helping the world, helping others, helping yourself,” Chalmers said. “For me, I just want to relay that information to everybody else to get them motivated to do these good things as well for themselves and for others and for animals and for the environment.”

Andreyev asserted that the findings of a 2006 report by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations offer evidence that eating meat and dairy products isn’t sustainable. “The livestock sector emerges as one of the top two or three most significant contributors to the most serious environmental problems, at every scale from local to global,” Livestock’s Long Shadow states.

“Going vegan is, in fact, one of the most effective ways to fight global warming, and I think a lot of the public doesn’t realize this,” Andreyev said. “Each individual can make a contribution by adapting their diet and consumer practices.”

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