DURHAM- “Why would you support something that causes harm not only to other living beings, but to human beings, and our planet as well?” says Oyster River High School student Amy Janscy (‘20), regarding her vegan lifestyle.
Amy Janscy converted to veganism, a lifestyle prohibiting the consumption and/or purchase of animal products such as meat, dairy, eggs, and fish, at the beginning of her freshman year of high school after following a vegetarian diet since the age of nine. Janscy made the switch to veganism due to her lifelong love for animals, and the beneficial effects of veganism on the environment. Since then, she has further educated herself on the vegan lifestyle, and works to spread her knowledge to those around her.
In her two years that she’s been vegan, she has not only converted her younger sister to veganism, but as also started Seacoast New Hampshire Animal Save, a New Hampshire branch of a non-profit organization called AnimalSave. AnimalSave’s main objective is to improve the lives of animals and provide humane education to people about the way animals are treated. AnimalSave has branches worldwide, started by people such as Janscy. The main objective of Janscy’s branch focuses on spreading awareness of the cruelty experienced by farm animals in the meat and dairy industry by holding vigils for animals that are about to be slaughtered, or abused.
Janscy came up with the idea to create Seacoast New Hampshire Animal Save at an activism camp she attended in summer of 2018. The camp she attended wasn’t specifically for vegans. However, due to the fact that the food provided at the camp is 100% vegan, therefore it attracts a lot of vegan campers. Throughout the camp, each camper made an action plan, so that they could catalyze activism within their community once they returned home, rather than sitting on all of the knowledge they gained and not using it.
Janscy’s plan was to create an organization within our community that shined light on the treatment of farm animals. Initially, she was planning on creating an individual organization. However, when she did research on the different organizations in the area, she realized there was no AnimalSave branch in New Hampshire. “When I looked, there was no New Hampshire group, so I decided to start one.” says Janscy.
Janscy found success in hosting vigils for animals that were currently alive, but on their way to be slaughtered. “We typically watch trucks full of animals come in for slaughter. We record what we see and hear and say nice words to the animals, because those are the last nice words they’ll ever hear,” says Janscy. “You can see it in their eyes; you can see how badly they’re treated.”
Amy Janscy, and her younger sister, Hilary Janscy, at one of their vigils.
Janscy’s motives for her vegan lifestyle span beyond her compassion for animals. One of the topics Janscy discovered in her veganism was the correlation between slaughterhouses and environmental racism. Environmental racism is a term used to describe the practice of placing those of low socioeconomic status and/or minorities in environmentally hazardous areas, or placing environmental hazards into areas primarily populated by those of low socioeconomic status and/or minorities. “People who work in slaughterhouses and factory farms are usually people from underprivileged communities who can’t fight back”, says Janscy.
Janscy uses her social media platform on Instagram to promote her vegan lifestyle through Instagram stories. Her main objective with her posts is to show people what veganism really looks like and to provide her followers with facts, allowing her followers to use the facts as they please. “I want people to realize that there’s facts that back up what veganism is all about,” says Janscy. “A lot of people don’t know what veganism even is”.
One major contributor to Janscy’s vegan lifestyle is the impact of veganism on the environment. “Research, research, research,” says Janscy when it comes to impacts of veganism on the environment.“If you’re an environmentalist or an animal lover, look at what your actions are and see if your actions match your morals.” says Janscy.
Another one of Janscy’s motives for veganism is the benefits the lifestyle has had on her physical health. “I was really unhealthy when I was vegetarian, because all I ate was pasta and pizza”, says Janscy. “When I first went vegan, I was raw vegan because I hate to cook, and my skin cleared up so fast, it cleared my cystic acne”.
However, Janscy doesn’t believe you need to consume animal products to have a healthy, balanced diet. “I think that it is the healthiest way to live”, says Janscy. “Everyone always says to eat your fruits and vegetables until you’re vegan, and you do just that, and then people say you’re unhealthy”.
Janscy doesn’t overly concern herself with protein intake, as she personally doesn’t think she needs to worry about it too much. However, she does make sure she is consuming common plant based protein sources, such as beans, lentils, and hemp seeds. “I eat a lot of smoothies with hemp seeds, and whenever I can, I put spinach and kale into a sandwich or something”, says Janscy. Although Janscy doesn’t stress too much about her protein intake, as a general guideline, according to Healthline, it’s important to aim to have 25-30% of your daily calories come from protein, which can be challenging when following a vegan lifestyle.
One person who Janscy has helped become vegan is her younger sister, Hilary Janscy, a freshman at ORHS. Although Janscy helped to educate Hilary on the facts about veganism, “She didn’t go vegan until she went to a fair with her friend, and they showed off how they were going to kill the turkey and eat it,” says Janscy.
Although Janscy didn’t directly convert Hilary to veganism, Hilary still credits Janscy for her overall switch to veganism. As Hilary transitioned directly from an omnivore lifestyle to a vegan lifestyle, skipping the middle vegetarian stage as a whole, she looked up to her sister for inspiration and guidance during the process. “She is so strong, selfless, and compassionate,” says Hilary (‘22).
Their shared vegan lifestyle has not only brought the sisters closer together over their mutual love for animals, but their parents also made an effort to switch to more of a plant based lifestyle, although neither of Janscy’s parents are vegan.
Hilary has followed in Janscy’s footsteps and has begun posting vegan instagram stories of her own. The images both Janscy and Hilary use in their instagram stories come from other vegan instagram accounts. However, Janscy and Hilary haven’t always gotten the same responses from their posts. Janscy tends to get more positive responses, whereas Hilary’s audience doesn’t always give the same reaction. “She’s gotten more hate than I have, probably because she’s a freshman.” says Janscy on Hilary’s posts.
Regardless of the responses they receive, both of the Janscy sisters believe in the power of their social media posts. “I think social media is a very powerful way to spread activism” says Hilary.
Neither of the sisters expect their followers to view their posts and immediately change their lives; their primary objective is to spread what they’ve learned and let their followers use the information in front of them however they want. “You can’t force someone to go vegan, you have to give them the information and someday hope that they will find that inspiration and kick that they need to do it,” says Janscy. “For example, the Deerfield Fair was last week, so I posted some stuff about how the fair abuses animals.”
Regardless of the outcome, Janscy will continue to support people, especially those who consider themselves environmentalists and/or animal lovers, to do their research on the vegan lifestyle. Janscy says, “if you have an open mind and look at the facts, you’ll find that veganism is the answer to a lot of problems.”