Tamar Leiberman ’19 and Lily Swartz ’20 created first vegan club on campus
“It just seemed like there were three clubs for every social issue on campus, but no one was talking about animals. There are billions of animals each year that are affected by what we eat.”
This is one of the many reason why Tamar Lieberman ’19 and Lily Swartz ’20 chose to start the Veg Club, a club primarily aimed at “creating a community where vegans, vegetarians, and people interested in eating plant-based diets could come together and talk to one another.” Both Lieberman and Swartz were “upset and disappointed” that Brandeis did not have a vegan/vegetarian club for students who affiliate with either diet, so the two decided to join forces and begin their own club.
The process of starting a club was not so simple. Brandeis requires that students interested in starting a club fulfill a few requirements, such as drafting a constitution and receiving over one hundred signatures of interest. Lieberman noted that “jumping through those hoops was frustrating,” but not enough to deter either her or Swartz. Swartz added that “people were more than happy” to sign the petition for the Veg Club and were genuinely surprised that such a club did not already exist on campus.
Now that the club is up and running, it has and will continue to host speakers and food-centered events, all of which will promote vegetarianism and veganism. The club hopes to host a vegan food festival down the road and continue to serve as a source of advocacy, education and community for vegetarians, vegans and all who are simply interested in learning more about either diet. Both Lieberman and Swartz reflected on the club’s significance not only for them but for all vegan and vegetarian students on campus. Swartz emphasized how nice it is to have a community of people who have similar food-related interests because “you really are what you eat at the end of the day.” Both agree that it is empowering to show others what they care about, and both care deeply about their veganism and the ideology behind it.
While both Lieberman and Swartz are equally passionate about their veganism, each had a different journey towards this lifestyle. Swartz watched the documentary “Forks Over Knives” on Netflix with her brother, and they both decided to become vegans right then and there. Lieberman’s process was far more gradual. She was a pescatarian for six months, a vegetarian for a year and a half after that, and the transition into veganism occurred during the gap year in between high school and college that she spent in Israel. Both Lieberman and Swartz have been vegan for two years.
Beyond their personal journeys to veganism, the two have a more global message that they hope their club conveys. Lieberman asserts that “real change is not made when one percent of the population is vegan; that’s not going to change the animal agricultural industry.” If more people commit to being meatless even one day a week, for example, then “we can make real changes and demand more and save so many animals’ lives.” Lieberman and Swartz hope to convey why their club is important by drawing attention to the ways everyone on campus can help them make change and how they can all “have a good old vegetarian fun time” at the end of the day.
—Editor’s Note: Tamar Lieberman has contributed to the Justice