Student by day and activist by night, Ella Azoulay, a CAS sophomore studying environmental and animal studies, spends her free time promoting compassion for animals as a member of the Animal Welfare Collective at NYU. In addition, she interns at The Humane League, a national organization that stands for animal rights.
The Animal Welfare Collective club was started by four students and has now grown into more than 20 members. A vegan herself, Azoulay finds a common ground for standing up for animal rights within AWC.
“[The club] connects us to opportunities to get active in the cause we care about,” Azoulay said, adding that the club is not about veganism or vegetarianism. “It allows you to expand on activism on behalf of animal rights.”
Azoulay’s internship role at The Humane League involves engaging NYU students in animal rights. In addition to putting up posters in Stern, she has coordinated events with AWC for the organization.
“I provide the NYU perspective on how [The Humane League] can best reach students,” Azoulay said. “It’s a way to connect.”
Azoulay also discussed her own experiences in transitioning from vegetarianism to veganism. She stated that she has been a vegetarian since she was eight years old. The turning point in going vegan occurred after learning about factory farming conditions.
“No matter where you’re getting your meat from, an animal would have suffered,” Azoulay said. “I researched the dairy industry and I found out same things hold true for dairy cows and calves. I’m not eating meat, but I’m eating cheese anyways?”
Not only is going meatless helpful for decreasing the suffering of animals in food production, but it is also good for one’s health and for the environment, Azoulay said.
Although some dining halls, including Hayden and Weinstein, have increased options for vegans and vegetarians, Azoulay expressed frustration that the dining services had yet to inform students of the first dining advisory board meeting, geared for students who want to raise concerns and learn about dining initiatives.
“The dining advisory board was supposed to announce the date of the first meeting of the semester on February 17,” she said, “But I never heard from them.”
Azoulay said she hopes to see more students get involved for the cause. But she has bigger goals as well.
“I’ve chosen my path in working against factory farming because that’s the biggest way in which animals are impacted by anything humans do,” Azoulay said. “In the U.S. alone, 10 billion animals are killed per year for our consumption.”
As to what NYU’s community can do in standing up for animal rights, Azoulay encouraged students to try Meatless Mondays and to watch documentaries, such as Cowspiracy and Food Inc., that show the conditions animals face in food production.
“The more you know about a cause and the injustices that are happening, the more you’re going to care,” Azoulay said.
Email Yeho Hwang at [email protected]