we. vegan.

Involving communities in the vegan movement through engaging community events, informative articles, and easy-to-follow DIY tutorials.

Photo of Ashwika Agrawal
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Eligibility: Please confirm you meet all the following criteria

  • You are aged between 14 - 18 as of August 1, 2020
  • You live in the United States or its territories
  • You are not employed by, or directly related (grand parents, parents or siblings) to a current General Motors (GM) or Ashoka employee
  • You have been working on this project for at least three months
  • You consent to us possibly featuring your work on social media
  • You confirm you have the rights to use and share any content uploaded on this entry form

Eligibility: Date of Birth

09/22/2005

What gender do you identify with?

  • Prefer not to say

Help us stay in touch!

Phone number: (650)-426-8497 Address: California: Cupertino (95014)

Website or social media url(s) (optional):

Instagram: @we.vegan_ Medium: @wevegan

Date You Started Your Project Started

2/21/2020

Project Stage: Select the description below that best applies to your approach.

  • Growth (have moved past the very first activities; working towards the next level of expansion)

1. The Problem: What problem are you helping to solve?

Meat consumption & production takes a massive toll on the environment in a variety of ways. Raising livestock for slaughter requires large amounts of land & fertilizer usage. This demand for land is fulfilled through unsustainable practices, such as clearcutting, leading to a loss of habitat for millions of animals. Further, the processing & transportation of meat emit large amounts of greenhouse gases, thus contributing towards climate change.

2. Your Solution: How are you planning to solve this problem? Share your specific approach.

My initiative, “we. vegan.” is a non-profit organization that aims to educate communities about the positive impact of a vegan lifestyle, primarily on the environment. Through my organization, I arrange interactive community events, host impactful vegan guest speakers, and DIY workshops for citizens to create their own vegan dishes, cosmetics and clothing items. These unique and engaging events attract community members of all ages, backgrounds, genders, and races. Our easy to follow DIY workshops and tutorials are a great way to illustrate how simple it really is to go vegan. My non-profit harnesses the power of technology to publish detailed articles, information, and recipes/tutorials to help ease readers into their vegan regimens. By keeping the community informed about the extensive impacts that arise from our seemingly trivial actions, I am able to raise more awareness, and allow community members to become more conscious consumers and citizens. Through our online presence, “we. vegan.” is able to have a reach far beyond our location of origin, and make our resources and articles easily accessible to people, regardless of where they live or who they are.

3. Using STEM as a force of good: Please specify how are you using STEM to solve for an environmental challenge you are passionate about.

My environmental research concerning the effects of veganism on the environment has taught me a lot about the scientific processes involved in meat production and emission of greenhouse gases. Therefore, a large chunk of information and articles published through my organization detail these scientific processes, and aim to break them down in an easily understandable way. I primarily focus on emphasizing the domino nature of environmental phenomena. Take for example, the clearing of land for feed lots. This clearing of land leads to deforestation, which can then lead to a loss of habitat for many organisms, increased soil erosion, less ecosystem services provided by forests (especially a problem in developing countries), and even decreased water quality. Moreover, trees play an essential role in the sequestration of carbon, and without them, there is an excess amount of carbon dioxide present in the atmosphere. This one event--clearing of land--led to so many more harsh effects. By highlighting how a single environmental event can have such extensive impacts, and change an entire ecosystem, I am able to urge citizens to understand the severity of this issue, and take action.

4. Personal Journey: What’s the story behind why you decided to start this project?

Being a dog-owner and living right next to a park, I’ve spent nearly every summer of my life mostly outdoors. As you can imagine, this led me to developing a deep appreciation and love for nature. Unfortunately, as time progressed, the state of our environment worsened. Living in Northern California, I experienced these changes firsthand. One such experience was the multi-year drought that hit California. My curious nature led me to researching about these droughts, and soon enough, I learned about climate change, greenhouse gases, and ecological footprints. What infuriated me the most was knowing that our community has the power to restore our environment, but we choose not to. I felt the urge to motivate our citizens to take action towards this prominent issue, in a feasible and tangible way. This burning desire to restore our environment is what led me to starting "we. vegan."

5. Video (Keep it simple, a video made on a hand-held phone is great): Please upload a 1-minute video to YouTube that answers the following “I am stepping up to be a Changemaker because...”

I am stepping up to make a change because our planet is in serious danger, and it is infuriating and terrifying to think about the future. To think that our way of living, our lack of action, and our ignorance is leading our planet to a point beyond repair. By leading a plant-based diet, we can significantly reduce our carbon footprints, restore wild habitats, and free enough land to afforest, giving us one more chance at restoring the environment. I am driven to make this vision a reality.

6. Please highlight the key activities you have carried out to bring your project to life.

Due to the unique and unforeseen circumstances with COVID-19, a lot of the in-person events that we were scheduled to attend were cancelled. I am working on expanding our online presence on social media, and have reached out to verified vegan influencers, who are willing to participate in virtual interviews with "we. vegan." Currently, we have around 600 Instagram followers & 10-15 volunteer applicants who have indicated interest. 430 people have signed our pledge committing to take initiative.

7. The X Factor: What is different about your project compared to other programs or solutions already out there?

The majority of pro-vegan organizations primarily revolve around a vegan diet. Although a plant-based diet can definitely bring tremendous benefits, diet adjustments may seem like an intimidating task for many, and end up steering people away from the idea of going vegan. That’s exactly why my organization focuses on highlighting the other ways to eliminate animal products in your life, besides diet. Think about cruelty-free cosmetics, or purchasing faux-fur instead of animal fur. Further, we are able to involve all community members-- including children-- with our fun workshops and events.

8. Impact: In the last three months, please detail the impact your project has made?

Over the past three months, my primary focus has been expanding our online presence through our social media platforms. I have also reached out to vegan influencers, who are willing to share their stories (why they chose to go vegan, etc.) with the public through our organization. At the same time, I am working on registering “we. vegan.” as an official 501(c)(3) organization, which would allow us to gain more financial support. I have released a volunteer application on our social media accounts, and I am also reaching out to people who are potentially interested in serving as board members. We have approximately 10 to 15 volunteer applicants who are indicated interest. Currently, our Instagram page has around 600 followers, and 430 pledge signatures. We are working on growing those numbers by expanding on to more social media platforms, and working towards growing our internal team.

9. What’s Next: What are your ideas for taking your project to the next level?

One of my ideas involves bringing my non-profit to my high school, and other local schools in my area. My objective is to have the school cafeteria serve “Meatless Mondays,” or “Vegan Wednesdays,” which would take place at least once a month. As the name suggests, the cafeteria would refrain from serving any animal products on these designated days. This would greatly reduce the carbon footprint of each school, and result in a vast decrease of greenhouse gas emissions. I would enact this change by discussing my organization with the administrative staff members at local high schools. Another idea I have is to have citywide designated days for residents to only purchase cruelty-free products, and minimize meat consumption.

10. Please share how you have influenced other young people to get involved in your project and/or care about environmental sustainability.

“we. vegan.” has had an overwhelmingly positive reaction to our social media posts and tutorials. Students have been reaching out to me with messages of gratitude for spreading this message, and I have received emails saying that students feel fulfilled after signing the pledge. Further, my friends, family members, and neighbors are excited to attend events organized by “we. vegan.” and are spreading awareness about my organization’s mission in their own schools and workplaces.

11. Please share ideas of how you can partner with other changemakers to make a difference?

The environment is a shared resource, and it brings me a tremendous amount of joy to see other youth stepping up to make a change in their respective communities. Fortunately, there are a variety of methods to form partnerships, whether it be through individual roles or forming connections between two larger organizations. Currently, I am collaborating with other changemakers by leveraging our social media support to promote other vegan pages, such as vegan cooking and sustainable fashion pages.

12. How would you engage others who have never heard about your project to get their buy-in?

Leading a vegan lifestyle brings a tremendous amount of value, regardless of who you are. Simple, tangible, and actionable items are what we focus on promoting. Over time, these small actions collectively make a huge impact. We encourage public involvement through attending large events. People tend to get most attracted to interactive, hands-on activities, and our DIY workshops are designed specifically to ensure involvement and engagement from people of all ages-- including young children.

13. Finances: If applicable, have you mobilized any of the following resources so far?

  • Friend support
  • Family support

References

Gauri Agrawal- (650)-492-1289, gauri05@icloud.com Vivek Agrawal- (650)-492-1290, vivek@stanfordalumni.org Isha Bhatnagar- (510)-432-1606

Are you employed, or directly related (grand-parents, parents, sibling) to a GM or Ashoka employee?

  • No

Help Us Support Diversity! Part 1 [optional] Which of the following categories do you identify with?

  • Asian (for example: Chinese, Filipino, Indian, Vietnamese, Korean, Japanese, Pakistani) (9)

Help Us Support Diversity! Part 2 [optional] Do you identify as part of any of the following underrepresented communities?

  • Other

How did you hear about this challenge?

  • Participated in previous Ashoka challenges
  • Email

Evaluation results

12 evaluations so far

1. Overall evaluation

Yes, absolutely! - 50%

Probably - 16.7%

Maybe - 25%

Probably not - 0%

No - 8.3%

2. CONNECTION to Environmental Sustainability

5 - Absolutely! It is totally clear that the solution is contributing directly to environmental sustainability and/or addressing climate change - 66.7%

4 — Yes, it establishes a connection to environment/ climate change but could be stronger - 8.3%

3 — Somewhat, the entry speaks to this environmental sustainability, but the direct impact is not well established - 16.7%

2 — Not really, the connection to environment/ climate is very weak - 8.3%

1 — No. The entry does not have a reference the solution’s impact on environment and/or climate change - 0%

No Answer or No Connection - 0%

3. Is this entry CREATIVE?

5 - Yes, absolutely! - 50%

4 - Yes, I think so - 8.3%

3 - Maybe - 25%

2 - Probably not. - 16.7%

1 - No - 0%

No Answer - 0%

4. Does this entry demonstrate a COMMITMENT to changemaking?

5 - Yes, absolutely! - 100%

4 - Yes, I think so - 80%

3 - Maybe - 60%

2 - Probably not - 20%

1 - No - 0%

No Answer - 0%

5. Does this entry value CHANGEMAKING through collaboration with other stakeholders in its approach?

5 - Yes, absolutely! - 41.7%

4 - Yes, I think so - 25%

3 - Maybe - 16.7%

2 - Probably not - 16.7%

1 - No - 0%

No Answer - 0%

6. Is this entry VIABLE financially and operationally?

5 -Yes, absolutely! - 33.3%

4- Yes, I think so - 0%

3- Maybe - 66.7%

2- Probably not - 0%

1- No - 0%

No Answer - 0%

7. FEEDBACK: What are the strengths of this project?

CONNECTION: You have a great understanding and personal connection to the problem - 100%

CREATIVITY: You have researched existing solutions, and have developed unique, thoughtful new solutions to aid environmental sustainability/combat climate change - 33.3%

COMMITMENT: You have a thoughtful plan for growing your business, and your founding team has a strong combination of leadership and knowledge-based skills - 100%

CHANGEMAKER QUALITY: You value thinking around how to activate other changemakers and empower them to care about your cause. You also have a clearly defined plan on how to collaborate across multiple stakeholders - 66.7%

IMPACT MEASUREMENT: You use specific numbers and evidence to describe what your project has achieved so far (or plan to achieve in the future) and you have a plan for measuring impact - 33.3%

VIABLITY: You have given a great deal of thought to not just the idea itself but how to make it work from a financial perspective in the present and future - 66.7%

Other option - 33.3%

8. FEEDBACK: What are some areas for improvement for this project?

CONNECTION: Why you care about the environment/ climate was unclear – It would be great to elaborate on what this solution means to you, personally and how it affects you and/or your community. - 0%

CREATIVITY: Be more specific in your description of the research you have done into the past solutions to this problem and focus on how your solution is unique and innovative - 100%

COMMITMENT: Your plan for growing the organization can benefit from more specifics. How can you round out the various skills of your current leadership team to make the project a long-term success? - 0%

CHANGEMAKER QUALITY: Try to provide more insights into how you are activating changemakers and empowering them to innovate through your product or programming. How will they care about environment/climate if they currently do not? Think about how to create value for all stakeholders, not just immediate beneficiaries - 0%

IMPACT MEASUREMENT: Provide specific instances of your social impact and how you plan to measure impact – it may be helpful to describe the beneficiaries, products and programming, and provide evidence of (or plan for) how to measure impact - 100%

VIABILITY: Make sure you have provided descriptive information about your financial sustainability plan. Where do the funds come from now and do you have a concrete plan for future sustainability? - 50%

Nothing – I thought everything was great! - 50%

Other option - 50%

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Photo of Ashwika Agrawal
Team

Just wanted to give a quick update regarding my progress with we. vegan. At the time of application, we had around 600 Instagram followers, and 430 pledged. Currently, we are nearing 900 followers and have gotten around 700 pledge signatures. I appreciate the community support :) Thank you all so much!

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