While many high schoolers classify themselves as environmentalists–for a week, or even merely a day–because they use reusable water bottles or throw paper into the recycling instead of the garbage, senior Caroline Hardy takes it to a different level. She went vegan freshman year after being a vegetarian for six months. “At the beginning, I cut out animal products because of how much they negatively affect the environment,” she told me. “Methane emissions and runoff from factory farms are horrible for the environment.” However, she evolved into being a vegan for humanitarian reasons as well. “The conditions for those animals are horrible.”
Throughout her high school tenure, she has become increasingly more invested in her veganism, which she dubs a lifestyle. “When you’re a vegan, it includes every aspect of your life.” Along with her food, Caroline’s clothes and beauty products are also vegan. “No wool, no leather, no products tested on animals,” she stated. No exceptions. Furthermore, her clothing choices go further than just wearing vegan clothing. In fact, she told me about a phenomenon I had never heard of: Fast Fashion. She described it as constant shopping, buying new clothing every week, and especially buying it from big manufacturers such as Forever 21 or H&M.
“You don’t need to buy new clothes every season,” Caroline told me. “I get things from thrift stores that are cheap and just as good.”
Using reusable containers is second nature to Caroline. “I always use reusable bags when I go grocery shopping, it’s so easy to do and so much better for the environment.” You will never see her carrying a plastic Scout Fuel water bottle either. She does not endorse the school’s reliance on plastic and also focuses on food sustainability. Moreover, the school’s cafeteria food is far from her standards. She purchases organic food as much as possible, and mainly eats “whole foods,” which can be explained as unprocessed products that never see a factory. Still, she understands that not eating anything with a wrapper is not realistic for everyone. So, she says, “A vegan protein bar is way more sustainable than a non-vegan protein bar, so when in doubt, buy the vegan one.”
She appreciates that going vegan has turned into a fad the past few years. “The vegan diet trend is a good thing, in my opinion.” She started. “Even if you aren’t doing it for humanitarian or environmental reasons, that’s fine because you’re helping the environment and being more sustainable without even trying. It’s very beneficial to the world.”
Caroline has chosen Reed College for her next four years of school, a private liberal arts college in Portland, Oregon that fully suits Hardy’s academic and lifestyle interests. She’ll be majoring in what she’s most passionate about: environmental science and biology.
Caroline’s dedication to her lifestyle is inspiring, and should serve as motivation for the young women at LFHS to follow their passions with vigor, regardless of whether their passions are athletic, fashionable, or have the capacity to alter their lifestyle choices. Hardy, who is well-known by teachers and students alike at LFHS, answered all my questions with such passion and zeal; she takes being a vegan to the next level.