By CARMEN SAFFIOTI
As Joe Biden was announced the projected winner of the presidential election recently, Kristie Babylon rejoiced while Cindy Rhein lamented her disappointment on Facebook.
The women, both vegans, said their biggest factor into their vote was animal rights despite them voting for opposing candidates.
Babylon, a Pennsylvania mother of four, prepares a healthy tofu dinner for her family. Her greying hair is tied back into a slick bun; she wears a green tee shirt that reads, “Vegan for the animals.” She contemplates what she was doing about four years ago on November, 8th 2016. She didn’t vote that year, too much family drama. Half of her family went for Trump
and the other half for Clinton. She thought that if she didn’t vote, she could stay neutral.
“I was wrong,” said Babylon.
About a month after that day she decided to go take the leap and go vegan after being vegetarian for over thirty years.
“Since then, it is like I had an awakening.” she continued “I began to understand that my actions and my political beliefs are related to the planet and animals that I want to save. I know that it sounds dumb realizing this at 50, but for 30 years I was passively vegetarian not realizing that I had to take bigger actions to make an actual impact.”
Babylon, once she became vegan four years ago, became much more stanch in her beliefs, including her political beliefs. She calls Trump one of the biggest threats to animal rights.
“When I became vegan, I also became politically active,” she noted. “I voted in smaller elections in 2017, 2018, and 2019. I encouraged
my family to vote. The animals need us to vote because they can’t.”
Babylon said the environment was the biggest factor that she was voting on in 2020. “If the planet is dying, then all of the animals are dying as well. I don’t think anyone can call themselves vegan. I can understand if a vegan doesn’t vote, you know, out of ignorance, but I can’t see how someone could vote for Donald Trump if they claim to be vegan.”
On that same November night in 2016, Cindy Rhein was rejoicing because her favored candidate, Donald Trump, was projected
to win. Rhein had just celebrated 10 years of being vegan in 2016.
“If Biden wins, the animals will suffer under socialism.” Rhein said.
Rhein explained that under socialism people will not be able to have the choice to go vegan, and that everyone will be forced to buy animal products.
“Under Biden, since he loves China, we will be more like the Chinese. They consume the most animals because that is what is normal in communist nations. All animals, including dogs and cats will suffer more.” said Rhine.
However, experts say, the United States, not China, consumes
the most meat. While per capita meat consumption rates are on the rise in China, they are still significantly less than the per capita meat consumption rates of Americans.
“Capitalism is what lets me be vegan,” Rhein added. “It is the consumer’s choice. I have the choice to be vegan. Under Biden’s socialism I won’t be able to be vegan.”
Rhein did not provide any evidence for these claims and didn’t point out any of Biden’s listed policies that stated this directly or indirectly. Instead, she argued that it was “common sense.”
Rhein’s views represent a small minority in the vegan community. In fact, a survey showed that 75 % of U.S. vegans planned on voting for Joe Biden. In that same survey, it was revealed that only 6.5% of vegans planned on voting for Trump and 18.5% planned on voting for a third party.
Vegan celebrities such as Ariana Grande expressed her support for Biden. One of the reasons, much like vegan voter Kristie Babylon, was Biden’s support of addressing climate change. The climate crisis is linked to veganism because animal agriculture creates a large carbon footprint. A 2018 study showed that going vegan can be the most impactful change a person can make to reduce the carbon footprint.