The Vegetarian Resource Group Blog


Posted on May 08, 2017 by The VRG Blog Editor


Aaditi Tamhankar became vegetarian at age 8 when she realized that the meat from the store in the Saran wrapped package was actually “dying for my meal. My epiphany at eight years old turned me vegetarian for life.” She then turned vegan at age 16.

At her high school, she started the Health and Wellness Club with the goal of organizing her school’s first Health and Wellness Fair. This resulted in over 25 exhibitors, including a gardening stand, Whole Foods giving out samples of fruit smoothies, and representatives from the Vegetarian Society of South Jersey. About 1,000 students attended. Aaditi said, “In my school, almost a quarter of students are on the free or reduced lunch program. Through the event, my peers could see the value and affordability of a healthy vegan lifestyle, and the integral role it plays in disease prevention.”

Aaditi wrote, “On Saturday I volunteered all day with the Vegetarian Society of South Jersey (VSSJ) for a tabling event at the Burlington County Library Maker Fair. I spoke with Steve Fenster, the Vice President of the VSSJ. He informed me that the VSSJ had an educational license to show a special version of the documentary Cowspiracy created for high school and college students.”
“Working with my school’s administration, my club advisor, and the VSSJ, I organized a screening for the documentary today. Today was the date of the second annual Health and Wellness Fair that I led with my club members. Before the students attended the fair, they were seated in a large auditorium. The Vice President of the VSSJ came in and showed the documentary to over 600 students. After the documentary, the students got to interact with vendors such as the American Vegan Society and the VSSJ. They also ate delicious vegan date balls from Heartbeet Kitchen (a local vegan restaurant), cold pressed juice from Whole Foods, and black rice, quinoa, and black bean burgers from SuperFoods Culinary Innovations (A local vendor) among others.”

“The documentary really opened the students’ and teachers’ eyes, minds, and hearts to the idea of vegetarianism and veganism as evidenced by the preliminary data coming in through my Google Forms survey. Over 75% of respondents expressed some desire to be a vegetarian or vegan after the day, and a full 80% of students said they tried a new food today. When asked, “What is one thing you learned today?” Many respondents said that they learned about the impact of animal agriculture on the environment.”

Aaditi also founded the vegan club at her high school, which had booths at the local Earth Day festival and 8th grade education night. She and her high school principal met with the directors of food service for the Cherry Hill School District. Aaditi helped organize volunteers for the Vegetarian of South Jersey 30th anniversary event. During the event, Aaditi delivered a speech, greeted attendees, and assisted with clean-up and breakdown. She will be doing an internship with VSSJ this summer.

Aaditi plans to attend the University of Pennsylvania Wharton School of Business. She would eventually like to start social entrepreneurship projects on a global scale to better public health.
The deadline for the next Vegetarian Resource Group Scholarship Contest is February 20, 2018.

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