Why did you start this association?
Desai: ‘The university is very interested in sustainability, and this is impossible to tackle without keeping the influence of agriculture on the environment in mind. We noticed that there are not a lot of plant-based food options on campus, which is – for one – not inclusive for students with different diets, but it is also contradicting for the UT’s sustainability goals. Next to that, starting a vegan association is also just a good way to create a community for people who are interested in veganism. Most Dutch universities already have a regional vegan student association, and now we start a local UT chapter as well, as part of the umbrella VSA Netherlands.’
What do you plan on doing?
Bansal: ‘We are still in the brainstorming phase, but our aim is to mainly focus on events and activities concerning veganism. Examples would be potlucks, movie nights, cooking sessions, sharing recipes, reviewing vegan restaurants and vegan food options, as well as excursions to farms, animal sanctuaries or companies like ‘The Vegetarian Butcher’ or ‘Beyond Meat’, for instance. We also have some collaborations in planning, for example with the Erasmus Student Network Twente, where we would provide vegan food options for instance. We just had our first meeting, which was an information meeting for people who are interested in joining. January is the vegan month, so we plan on starting our activities this month.’
What are your goals?
Desai: ‘We want to create a community for people who are interested in veganism. It’s not our goal to convert everybody into vegans. If they want to reduce their animal product consumption, that’s also fine. We have twenty members at the moment and not everyone is vegan either. We want to have more events and options for vegans. Plus, we want to educate students on how to live a vegan lifestyle, and show them that it is possible. We also want to grow as an association and have more members. We see that the attitude towards veganism is quite hostile. We hope this can change, so everyone who is a student in Twente is welcome.’