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Last updated May 29, 2023

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How to Write a Great College Essay About Veganism

Key Takeaway

College essays about veganism are pretty common. To make yours stand out, you'll want to connect your veganism to a core part of who you are—your strengths, values, aspirations, or more.

People become vegan for a number of reasons. For some, it’s a deeply held personal choice, while for others it’s simply a matter of taste.

If you’re vegan, chances are that it’s a topic that’s important to you. You may even be wondering if veganism is something you should write about for your college essay.

Your college essay should be about something you are most passionate about, and veganism can allow you to talk about a core part of your values.

But veganism is also a fairly common topic that can at times be difficult to extract an original and meaningful message from.

Like any common topic, there are pros and cons to writing a personal statement about veganism. The topic isn’t off the table, but some approaches are more effective than others.

Where College Essays About Veganism Can Go Wrong

To achieve the goals of a personal statement, a college essay about veganism has to be about more than just your veganism.

After all, you are vegan for a reason. Something about the practice resonates with you at a deeper level. That significance is what you should focus on.

Two of the most common approaches to writing a college essay about veganism miss this mark because they rely too much on generalities instead of your deeply-held and identity-based reasons for being vegan.

“Why I became vegan”

The first ineffective approach is the surface-level “why I became vegan” or “how veganism changed my life” framework.

If veganism is something important to your lived experience, then it’s only logical that you’d want to write your college essay about what led you to be vegan or the specific ways being vegan has improved your life.

That is valuable. But too often essays that follow this approach give only common-knowledge reasons for being vegan. In doing so, they fail to address something truly meaningful about the writer.

A 2018 poll found that 3% of American adults identified as vegan, up from 2% in 2012. Your admissions officer is very likely familiar with the most common reasons behind veganism, so sharing this kind of surface-level answer is inadequate.

Unless you truly interrogate how veganism connects to a broader part of who you are, then your essay will leave an admissions committee wanting.

“Why you should be vegan”

The second common trope to avoid is the simple persuasive approach to “why you/everyone should be vegan.”

Maybe you do think everyone should be vegan. Maybe it’s even the belief that has sparked your interest in studying environmental science or food studies.

Because this topic carries a lot of weight, writing about why people should act a certain way takes a lot of time and care that is typically not possible in a personal statement.

A persuasive essay about veganism also says too much about others and not enough about who you are, so it’s best to find another approach.

Overall, college essays about veganism can go wrong when they make an admissions committee say, “That’s great! But now what?”

If you only write about your veganism, you leave the admissions committee with more questions than answers about who you are and why they should admit you.

Before you begin your college essay about veganism, you should consider asking yourself two questions:

  1. How does my veganism relate to a larger part of who I am?
  2. And what do I want admissions officers to do with that information?

Using these questions as a guiding framework, let’s discuss two ways to go about writing your essay.

Effective ways to approach your college essay about veganism

Background and Identity

One way to make an essay about veganism stand out is by connecting your veganism to another significant part of your background or identity.

Instead of writing generally about why you became vegan, allow veganism to be only part of your more complex story.

Drawing these connections for the admissions committee will give them more genuine insight into who you are and what motivates you.

Consider the “how” and “why” behind your veganism to identify the value or motivation that is most central to you.

Did you go vegan after watching Food, Inc.?

Or maybe you grew up on a farm and your veganism is because of (or in spite of) your upbringing.

Or perhaps you simply have a dairy allergy and don’t like the taste of meat.

In all of these cases, the compelling story is not that you are vegan. Your veganism is compelling because it developed in a context that is specific to you.

Let’s plug the Food, Inc. example into our questions:

  1. How does my veganism relate to a larger part of who I am?

    I went vegan after watching Food, Inc. > I watched Food, Inc. in health class. > I cried during the documentary because I felt bad for the animals that were being treated poorly. > I love my veganism because I can actively live out my compassion for animals.

And there it is! A compelling, motivating part of your identity: your compassion.

  1. And what do I want admissions officers to do with this information?

    I want admissions officers to know that I am deeply compassionate towards animals. > This compassion is a guiding principle for how I move throughout the world.

With these two questions answered, you have a seedling for your essay. If you find that your answers to the questions actually aren’t that compelling, then you might consider a different topic.

Related Interests

The second effective way to approach your essay about veganism is to relate it to a specific academic or co-curricular interest.

Your veganism can then be a vehicle through which you talk about another topic related to your goals and passions.

This approach is effective because it allows you to discuss something you’re personally passionate about (veganism) and connect it to another part of yourself (your interest or accomplishment) that gives the admissions officers more reason to admit you.

Probably the most popular connections are wanting to study environmental science or biology or being a climate or animal rights activist.

Let’s try the questions again:

  1. How does my veganism relate to a larger part of who I am?

    I’m vegan. > I’ve joined and now lead an online community of vegans. > I’ve developed an academic interest in niche communities and am interested in learning more about them.

  2. And what do I want admissions officers to do with this information?

    I have an extracurricular accomplishment managing an online community of 5,000+ members. > My veganism has led to a budding interest in the psychology and sociology of online groups.

Again, you’ve found the seed. You can use your newfound connections as the foundation of your college essay.

Key Takeaways

Veganism is deeply important to many people. If you’re one of them, it’s okay to write your college essay about it.

While some approaches are better than others, essays about veganism are still fairly common.

So if you choose to write one, make sure that you root your essay in genuine and specific examples that clearly illustrate how your veganism connects to a core part of you.

In the end, your college essay about veganism should showcase another value, belief, or interest that you hold deeply. Once you’ve determined what that looks like for you, check out our other resources for writing a college essay and creating a cohesive application narrative.

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