As a professor at Kwantlen Polytechnic University, Michaela Lucas opens students’ minds to the ethics of veganism. As a vegan athlete, she’s artistry and strength in motion.
What brought you to the vegan lifestyle?
I became a vegetarian first at the age of 14 in 1989. This was influenced by my love of animals and solidified by my love of Morrissey and The Smiths. I lived on 72 acres and had nursed sick barn kittens to health on a few occasions. We also had two retired harness race horses. I named them Elvis and Priscilla. I fed them every day, hauling their hay first thing in the morning. In 1989 even being vegetarian was challenging. It took several years for me to arrive at committing to veganism. A friend was editing an article on animal agriculture and he called me because he was very upset. He told me what he had learned about why being vegetarian was not enough. He told me about the intense suffering in the dairy and egg industries and I knew I had to stop consuming these products of suffering.
Do you live in an area that is vegan friendly? Do you have any struggles being vegan where you live?
Being vegan in Vancouver Canada is pretty easy these days. We have amazing places to eat like Meet on Main and the loving hut food truck. We have a lot of shopping choices as well. Vegan cupcakes and donuts are not hard to find.
You are a professor. What subject do you teach and in what ways do you educate your students about veganism?
I am a philosopher specialized in ethics. All my ethics courses include veganism as a topic. Sometimes I teach a food ethics class specifically. I’m excited to be doing that again next term. A number of my students have gone on to change their treatment of non-humans. One of my former students, Wilson Wong, came into my class a carnist and is now a central figure in Direct Action Everywhere. He contacted me to tell me that I was part of his transition to veganism and activism. It was a very proud moment for me. I feel very fortunate to have a job that allows me to be an active voice for non-humans.
How do your students respond to your lessons that include vegan philosophy?
I warn them from the first class to weed out people who will not benefit from the information at the current time. I used to find a lot more hostility. In the past 10 years I have noticed a dramatic shift. Students are now quite accepting of the facts. Students are thinking more these days of the impact of their behaviour on others. Students now seem to accept the arguments for veganism and see themselves as failing morally when they do not practice ethical veganism.
What are some of your favorite hobbies, activities?
I enjoy pole fitness and spending time with my beautiful vegan son. I love to go dancing with my friends.
Pole dance competitions are gaining popularity. You have competed in the pole dance competition, please explain all the work that goes into performing. Will you continue competing?
This year I competed in the provincials (placing 2nd) and nationals (placing 4th). There is a lot of work involved – training like crazy! Dance costumes are very expensive – that’s one thing I learned. I’m not sure I will compete again. It takes over the entire summer and I might want to relax this year. I also found that I enjoyed pole less when I was so focused on competing.
How can people get in touch with you if they have more questions?
I keep my social media pretty private because I don’t want my students to find me! I am Michaela Lucas on Facebook and people are welcome to follow me.