On Mon. March 12, Niagara University’s Club for Animal Rights, Education and Sustainability set up a table in Gally to invite students to partake in trying virtual reality. The realities students could watch were the lives of cows, pigs and chickens raised in captivity.
Virtual reality is a software program that allows the viewer to see all around them, it’s commonly used for gaming. The Vegan Outreach is a nonprofit organization that usually hands out flyers on college campuses, but instead used smartphones and the virtual reality software to have viewers see the grotesque life that animals live.
Outreach Coordinator, Yuri Mitzkewich, toured to major campuses such as Ohio State and University of Cincinnati, sharing this experience with students and talking to them about what they can do to help. “The average outreach is 65 to 70 students a day with a 5 min immersion. We’re right there talking with the students about how awful it is, but also saying ‘here’s what you can do to help.'” Vegan Outreach also had pamphlets with vegan recipes with your favorite foods, such as egg substitutes for baking, pasta, chocolate chip cookies, chocolate pie, banana bread, how to make good tofu and mini pot pies.
The pamphlets also include facts about animal testing, what vitamin intake you should be trying to get everyday and which foods to eat with those vitamins. There’s a pamphlet about how athletes chose plant-based eating and it also includes different chain restaurants that have vegan options. “Conservatively, 3 people will start going vegan today, after experiencing that [virtual reality].” says Mitzkewich.
About 66 students watched at least one of the videos that day at the NU CARES table, including founders Ben Schian and Jess Michalski. There are grotesque scenes of the living conditions of these animals (cow, chicken or pig) and the brutality they go through everyday of their lives. This is an eye-opener for many, as they are watching these things for the first time.
Co-president of NU CARES, Jess Michalski says, “We had to bring these people here and do the virtual reality because as students, as young people, we are the most receptive to change and we have the ability to impact the most people.” With the new technology, activism has a new hold on supporters and getting new ones as well.
There are virtual realities on YouTube and viewers can use a smartphone and move around to experience this. “I really like the virtual reality because people are really drawn to technology, the tech is cool but what we’re seeing is happening every second.” says Michalski. On the bottom of the page are the links to the virtual realities in case students missed the event on Monday.
As far as the food situation goes on campus, NU CARES has brought change at the different locations for food. “And now in Gally, there’s an option at each station so people have the ability, whether they want to eat vegan or not. I’ve heard people at the stations in the dining commons and get something and say ‘this looks fantastic!’ They don’t care what’s in it, they just want to eat it because it’s good. Vegan food has the ability to do that, it can be just good food and we are able to avoid the animal products.” says Michalski
IG: @NU_Cares @VeganOutreach
Virtual Realities on YouTube