When a talk is less than what it’s advertised as

At an event advertised as veganism and social injustice,  Will Tuttle, a monk, was the keynote speaker. But he never ddressed social injustice.
Photo Submitted by Darrien Alexandra Fordham.

It was early Saturday evening when I ventured out of my comfort zone to attend what I believed to be an event that discussed the connection between veganism and social injustice, as stated on the event flyer.

After a 15-minute drive, I finally turned into a wooded area surrounded by beautiful tall green trees. Long plants lined the walkways leading up to a large glass church.

When I opened the door to the church, I was greeted and welcomed to enjoy an array of vegan food including delicious plant-based sausages. I sat down and ate my snack as I waited for the presentation to begin.

The presenter was Will Tuttle, a world traveler, former monk who traveled by foot from New York to Tennessee, lived in a bus, and has been vegan for 39 years and counting. He spoke on Saturday at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Tallahassee on North Meridian Street . This event was in partnership with the Tallahassee Vegetarian & Vegan community (TalVeg) for an event called “Social Justice: Revealing Hidden Connections.” This was just one event during the church’s environmental justice week.

A vegan is commonly stereotyped as an extreme animal lover who gave up meat in order to prevent animal cruelty. This can cause them to lack basic nutrients like protein and Vitamin D, which is generally believed to come from meat and dairy. On the contrary, like other stereotypes that generalize entire races, genders and so on, this stereotype is not quite accurate. Veganism is not only for extreme animal lovers and PETA, veganism also occurs when someone wants to fight against social injustice or even environmental issues.

“I look forward to hearing about how veganism ties into environmental rights,” said Susan Fleming, the social injustice chair at the UU Church of Tallahassee.

I, too, looked forward to the event due to the connection of veganism with social injustice. Despite the stereotypical vegan, I transitioned to veganism because of social injustice, not animal rights.

However, my preconceived notion of the event was proven to be false. Although Tuttle did an amazing job of explaining his experience with veganism and how veganism appears to be a social deviance rather than accepted by the majority, he only talked about animal rights. He also spoke on the topic of herderism, where animals are repeatedly impregnated and forced to birth constantly. After their bodies can no longer endure the abuse, they are killed and served at the average American family’s dinner table. But because the event’s title included social injustice, I expected Tuttle was going to talk about racism, sexism and classism.

All in all, I appreciated the event as more discussions regarding American health should be held to bring awareness to different perspectives. I also was exposed to TalVeg, for which I’m grateful. I was just disappointed by the misleading title and the unpreparedness of the speaker.