Veganism isn’t just a diet. It’s a lifestyle. One that junior musical theater major Tamarah Tucker has experience advocating.
Within the realm of reasonable possibility, veganism is a way of living that excludes all exploitation and cruelty toward animals. Meat, eggs and dairy are the most notable exclusions,but animal products appear in everything from clothes to personal care items.
Tucker reached her turning point during her senior year of high school. While surfing the web, she came across a video relating to veganism. One click led to another until she came across a presentation called “101 Reasons to be Vegan.”
“There was a picture of a pig and a dog on the screen, and [the narrator] asked, ‘What is the difference between these two animals when you really look at them?'” Tucker said.”‘These animals have two eyes, two ears, a nose, and a mouth, both feel love and joy, but both feel pain in the same way … so why do we treat one with love and respect and kill the other on a mass scale?”
Tucker could think of no reasonable argument. That sealed her decision, and the change wasn’t as hard as expected.With a little help from YouTube, she tweaked her normal routine to fit her new lifestyle. Fruits and veggies make up the majority of her diet now, though she quickly learned techniques for cooking tofu so that it tastes like either eggs or chicken. Shopping is a breeze.
“If I’m buying soaps, there’s a specific brand that H-E-B has [that doesn’t exploit animals], or if I’m buying shoes, I know which websites to go on and what not to buy,” Tucker said.”I really don’t even have to think about it now.”
In the three years since the switch,she found few others who did the same until she happened upon a group called Vegan Outreach passing out fliers on campus. They explained she was the 10th person that day to tell them that he or she didn’t know any other vegans at Sam Houston States University. They suggested she start a club.
One semester later, she created a club for vegans and vegetarians. The group has only held one meeting so far,but they are shooting for meeting at least once per month to discuss special topics. Their Oct. 17 topic will cover how veganism impacts world hunger.
In addition to exchanging a few brands and starting a club, Tucker is making her mark on the community. She participates in various forms of activism, like protests and disruptions, to speak out against organizations that may not treat their animals with the love,care, or humanity they deserve.
“There’s a local slaughter house where we hold weekly vigils [where] we go out and hold signs that tell people …things about animal cruelty and how we don’t need animals to survive,”Tucker said. “Then we go look at the animals … and try to give them a little shred of happiness.”
Besides the slaughterhouse, Tucker has protested food establishments, zoos, circuses, Sea World, the Rodeo, and more. The ‘Anonymous for the Voiceless’ “Cube of Truth” is her favorite type of activism.
Participants stand in an outward-facing square wearing Guy Fawkes masks and hold laptops revealing graphic footage of factory farming and slaughterhouses.
“The Cube is my favorite kind of protest because it’s the most civil,” Tucker said. “It’s like [saying]… ‘I’m not trying to get you to go vegan, I’m just trying to start a conversation and raise awareness.'”
However, not everyone is on-board with her views. Family and friends don’t always understand her food choices,especially since she comes from a blend of African American and Mexican cultures influenced heavily by meat-based recipes. However, the real tension arises between her and the establishments she protests.
“PETA has a whole campaign where they protest A&M’s dog testing facilities, [and] as soon as the PETA went in, there was about twice as much security as [A&M] needed,”Tucker said. “I was just filming, and I still got detained for questioning.”
Even so, she respects the role the police force plays in her everyday life. She often calls them before an event so they can protect her first amendment right to peacefully protest.
Despite the challenges, she has seen her efforts pay off.
“There are some businesses that we’ve worked with or that PETA has worked with that have stopped using animal products in whatever they’re making,” Tucker said.
Even the Deluxe Tapioca in Huntsville offered her tofu when the owner discovered Tucker is vegan. It’s all about getting her message out there.
“The more people you talk to,the more people you’ve got that are more open to [veganism], especially in Cubes,” Tucker said. “That’s where I get the most support and understanding because we talk about things that most people don’t think about on a daily basis.”