Living on the veg: Wilson Alumni shares thoughts on veganism

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Graphic courtesy of @skysthespinach on Instagram

Sabrina Bergeron

Veganism’s popularity is on the rise, but cutting animal products out of your everyday diet can seem like a daunting task for a high school student. Rema Haile, 2020 Wilson graduate and curator of the vegan Instagram account @skysthespinach, shared her thoughts on veganism and what you can do to change your eating habits for the better.

Haile explained some of the misconceptions people associate with being vegan. “A lot of people have this idea that it’s so expensive, the food [is] nasty, and it’s this difficult thing that will take up most of your life.” She explained that veganism is actually extremely affordable. “I spend 30 dollars every two weeks,” she says. For a student supporting themselves, 15 dollars per week feels plausible. 

Additionally, Haile wanted to knock down the stigma that being vegan means you are dieting or having to eat salad constantly. People would make comments like “I didn’t know vegans ate that,” and she stressed the fact, “I’m vegan and I hate salad!”

She understands that some people don’t have the means to be vegan, as they live in places that don’t support a plant-based lifestyle. This is why she made a point to say that she doesn’t “judge people who can sustainably farm and hunt their own meat.”

Growing up in an Orthodox-Christian family, Haile explained that at the beginning of her plant-based journey she experienced pushback due to the sacred element of killing and eating of animals.

Haile explained that her go-to place for vegan options as a Wilson student was Chipotle. “I would get a vegan bowl, which was pretty good.”

Alongside her favorite vegan-restaurants in DC, she listed some of the best Black-owned vegan restaurants in the city—the complete list can be found on her Instagram. “Everlasting Life… Every single dish I’ve had there has been amazing.” 

In terms of satisfying a sweet tooth, Haile explained that vegan cake is just as easy for restaurants to make as traditional-cake because as she put it, “in baking you’re looking for reactions not certainties… so if they mess it up, something’s wrong with them.”

She wants to show people in her generation that being vegan is not as difficult as they  actually think. As a Wilson student, she started the “Let’s Go Veg” club which screened documentaries on the vegan-movement and promoted plant-based living. The club inspired her to start a business where she co-owns a vegan kitchen that “sets up food cabinets and community pantries [in food deserts] located mainly in Wards Six and Seven.” 

In all, being vegan can seem like a daunting task but people like Haile show us that with the right mindset and the willingness to try new things, anyone can succeed.