The Journey of starting the first Vegan Society at Bath Spa University

Friday, 8 September, 2017

Louise Thacker explains the journey she took to create the first ever vegan society at Bath Spa University, helping to support other students on their own vegan journeys.

Back in September 2016, when I took my first wobbly steps towards university and embarked upon the ultimate student experience, I had many thoughts and ideas as to how I could make my time at university the best it could be. 

Being a vegan and student, I felt an ounce of trepidation as to how my values would be accepted within the student community but with Bath Spa being one of the most exceptional, in terms of its innovative commitment to sustaining the environment and the inclusive community, my aspiration to start the first Vegan Society became somewhat less terrifying. 

As a first-year student, I was still finding my feet, and so, when the moment came for me to begin looking for other enthusiastic and passionate students to embark upon this journey with me, there was a certain amount of anxiety at finding the best people who I knew shared the same values and ideas as me. 

Would there even be any students who would have an interest in veganism? Would our aims be relevant to students? These questions were difficult to answer, and I’m not even sure if I could answer them, but I knew how important having a vegan society for students would be and how much of the student community could benefit.

At this point, social media became a hugely positively tool for networking and kickstarting communications with other like-minded students. It wasn’t long before I met a vegetarian who was in transition to becoming vegan and two other vegans who were considering starting a society themselves. To make things easier on ourselves, we decided to work together and form the Committee that every society needs to function. 

So, with the help and support from our amazing student union activities Vice-President, Amy, I began to complete the necessary procedure needed to make the society official. After a few months completing risk assessments and other various paperwork, I got the news that the society had been approved!

I was truly astonished and overjoyed that our passion, dedication and positivity had been rewarded. Taking this step towards restoring the connection between people and other animals; to show that you can change your perception and see non-human animals as living beings, friends, means a great deal to myself and the Committee. 

Now that the society was officially displayed upon our student union website, I arranged an initial social event for students to come and talk to us about what they wanted from the society and our plans for the year.

Having been vegan for almost two years, I had accumulated many leaflets, magazines and other merchandise and I wondered how best to distribute them without feeling that they would be wasted. So, I brought them for our new members to give them an insight into the statistics, successes and investigations that animal rights charities had been working on. 

They certainly made the people I met more engaged and interested; their curiosity was evident as they munched on vegan chocolate and read through the information. Now that we had the members, the next step was to run the society.

Once the realisation dawned on me that the society was real and needed to be coordinated by myself, I took to the task of organising documentary screenings, trips to the Viva Vegan Festival in Cardiff and Compassion at the Castle in Exeter. 

I knew I wanted the society to take part in fundraising activities so we organised a vegan bake sale on our university campus to raise money for a vegan charity. Even though we only raised a small amount, this is all money the charity wouldn’t have had otherwise – and every penny would ensure hope for animals. 

Most recently, I’ve been encouraging members to take part in the Vegan Chalk Challenge, a global campaign that aims to spread inspiring messages to people by writing messages of support for veganism and animals with chalk on public pavements. If you want to get involved, visit the website, grab some chalk and spread the love! 

I don’t know what the future holds for the society but I hope to continue being a voice for animals, to restore people’s conscience with empathy and love, and help students to shift their consciousness to one of compassion, equality and spiritual development. 

 By Louise Thacker

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