The Herbivore Club is dedicated to vegetarian and vegan awareness, promotion and discussion around campus. Since spring 2016, one of its members has shown her true devotion to living a healthier life.
Biology major Kaysha Kenney, 21, is the president of the Herbivore Club at Cal State Fullerton. She grew up in Murrieta and even as a child, Kenney always had a predilection for athletics, as well as academics.
“I always loved school when I was a kid. I’m a perfectionist, so I always try to do well in everything,” Kenney said. “Science was always my favorite, hence the biology major.”
While Kenney didn’t show any inclinations toward being vegan as a young child, she was always ardent about preservation of the earth, a value that was instilled by her parents.
“I wasn’t vegetarian or vegan when I was a kid, but my parents are environmentalists. We are a pretty liberal and progressive family, so they always instilled the value of protecting the planet in me,” Kenney said.
Last spring, only one semester after the club was founded, Kenney discovered the Herbivore Club.
“Once I found out about the club, I went to everything,” Kenney said. “I went to all the meetings and all the events we had on campus. I volunteered for everything.”
Kenney originally became a vegetarian because she was very sick, which led to her interest in a healthier lifestyle. After investing time in the adjustment, she developed ethical and environmental reasons for maintaining her plant-based diet.
A fellow Herbivore Club member and Treasurer of the Herbivore Club, Camille Saye, is also a friend of Kenney’s.
“I admire her passion to literally and genuinely save the world. She’s a true humanitarian,” Saye said.
As president of the 53-member club, Kenney often spends her time leading her peers in a contribution to the humanitarian effort.
“We work with a lot of animal organizations like the L.A. Farm Sanctuary, and our activism is sponsored by PETA, so we do a lot of events on campus,” Kenney said. “All of the activism stuff we do is to promote plant-based products. For example, on Halloween, we pass out vegan candy.”
Kenney’s adamancy to never antagonize a meat-eating person to switch to a plant-based lifestyle does not stop her from trying to appeal to carnivores from a relatable perspective.
“A lot of people say they could never give up meat. When I’m trying to convince someone to eat a plant-based diet, I tell them I used to say that too,” Kenney said.
For Kenney, the common misconception that vegetarians have less energy than meat-eaters is false.
“I actually have way more energy. That’s one huge thing about being plant-based; the first thing that everyone notices is that they have more energy. You are eating a lot more carbohydrates. Dairy and animal products have a lot of fat and cholesterol that can slow you down,” Kenney said.
When Kenney is not conserving the earth and creatures through her humanitarianism, she spends time exploring it.
“I’m a total beach person. I love scuba diving and snorkeling, hiking, paddle boarding, kayaking,” she said. “We have a boat–I’m always on the boat. I love the ocean. The ocean is my thing,”
Stephanie Villegas, another close friend of Kenney’s, has seen firsthand Kenney’s efforts to make the world a better place.
“One thing I love about Kaysha is that her heart is so big and she cares so deeply about everything and everyone around her. She sees the world differently than most people and I think we need more of that,” Villegas said.
She added that she admired the way Kenney has taken action for a cause that she cares about.
“She chose to be vegan because she cares deeply. She chose not to be ignorant of what was happening in those slaughterhouses. She talks the talk and she definitely walks the walk,” Villegas said.
As far as the future goes, it doesn’t seem like Kenney is going to lose sight of her environmentalist perspective.
“My goal is to do conservation work,” Kenny said. “Save the ocean. Save the planet.”