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Harvard Gazette: "The Vegans are Coming, and We Might Join Them"

July 10, 2019

“What this is, is the mainstreaming process,” said Nina Gheihman, a Ph.D. candidate in sociology at Harvard’s Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (GSAS). She researches how veganism, a historically marginal practice, has become a popular lifestyle choice as the demand for healthier, more sustainable food has grown in recent years. “Especially in the past three to five years, veganism has really transformed from this fringe animal-rights movement into a lifestyle movement,” she said.

Veritalk Podcast: "Veritalk Goes Vegan"

April 25, 2019

When you think “vegan” you probably think of activists railing against wearing leather and chowing down on raw tofu — not entrepreneurs offering up the latest foodie trends. Nina Gheihman, a PhD candidate in sociology, explores food trends from “franken-meat” to “plant-based diets” – and why climate change means that we’ll all be eating more plants very soon, whether we like it or not.

Harvard Magazine: "The Rise of Vegan Culture"

July 03, 2017

Sociology graduate student Nina Gheihman is researching social aspects of veganism’s spread. Veganism was at first closely bound to the ideology of the animal-rights movement, she explains, which initially aimed at a range of targets, like wearing fur and testing products on animals. Once activists shifted focus to farm conditions and food, veganism took on the features of what scholars call a “lifestyle movement.” Over time, it’s become more closely associated with general environmental concerns and a “healthism” mentality, bound up with notions of perfecting the body. Trustworthy numbers on how many people identify as vegan are hard to come by, says Gheihman, but a growing number practice veganism in some way: incorporating meat and dairy substitutes in their meals, or restricting their diets at certain times of day or for a period of weeks.

Harvard Gazette: "Focus on the Future of Food"

February 27, 2017

Nina Gheihman, a Ph.D. candidate in sociology at Harvard’s Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (GSAS), talked about the shift in societal views of veganism over the past several decades. Her presentation, “Innovation as Activism: The Case of Veganism in the United States, France, and Israel,” invited people to ask questions about their ties to the social norms of their food choices: “I think it’s important to be skeptical of anything, including veganism. It makes sense for myself in regard to animals and the planet, but the onus is on people to do the research for themselves,” she said. “I understand when people say if my actions can reduce suffering in some way, then that’s good. But like with any cultural practice, you can’t just assume it blindly."

Epicenter: "Veganism: An Elegant Solution to a Host of World Problems?"

February 23, 2017

The year 2016 was hailed the “Year of Veganism.” In the last year alone, Google searches for the term “vegan” increased by 32 percent; the World Health Organization classified processed meat as a carcinogen in the same class as cigarettes; and a survey by Nutrition Business Journal found that more than a third of people consume dairy and meat alternatives regularly. While many people still see veganism—the non-consumption of products derived from animals—as an extreme cultural practice, it is clear that veganism is no longer a marginalized social movement. This brings up the intriguing sociological question: How does a fringe cultural practice become mainstream?

Harvard Crimson: "More Than Just Tofu"

March 30, 2017

From March 24 to 26, Harvard hosted the 2017 Ivy League Vegan Conference—and there wasn’t a sign-wielding animal-rights picketer in sight. “We really are focusing not on trying to convert or influence people’s personal ideologies,” says Nina Gheihman, a Ph.D candidate in Sociology and co-organizer of the conference. Instead, the conference presented itself as a platform for educational outreach and academic dialogue, attracting an audience less radical than one might expect: Students, academics, vegans, and non-vegans were all welcome at the event. “‘Vegan’ is… not necessarily the best word because it does have this activist association,” Gheihman says. “The reason we use the word ‘vegan’ is because it’s just the most familiar colloquially. It’s a mouthful to say ‘plant-based’ or ‘bioethics.’” For Gheihman, “veganism” is an easily accessible term to describe the intersection of many related fields—among them sustainability, environmentalism, animal rights, and food security. “The purpose of the conference is to open up a dialogue about the potential power of plant-based diets to address the heaps of global issues,” she says.

The Atlantic: "A Sociologist Finds Vegans Are Too Open to ‘Free Riders’"

August 30, 2018

Nina Gheihman, a doctoral student at Harvard who studies veganism, agrees with Wrenn’s findings that flexitarianism, as an acceptable end goal within the vegan and vegetarian movements, is damaging. But Gheihman says that the movement should be welcoming to those at its boundaries who may not be ready to dive right into veganism. “I do believe that flexitarianism as an initial approach is worthwhile, as there are many people who are not willing to adopt the ideological stance of the animal-rights movement within a society that does not yet embrace it. As well, they may have alternate motivations for following a plant-based diet, including health and environmentalism, and I believe these motivations are as valid as that of animal rights.”

NOW Magazine: "Is Veganism Ready to Hit the Mainstream in Toronto?"

July 12, 2018

Earlier this spring, Beyoncé announced via an Instagram post of avocado toast that she was temporarily going vegan in preparation for her Coachella performance, inviting her 115 million followers to join her. Nina Gheihman, a Toronto graduate student studying the social aspects of veganism at Harvard University, says veganism will continue to grow because of these kind of endorsements from celebrities. “Beyoncé can reach the Midwest mom with two kids, someone who might not ever consider being vegan. But now that Beyoncé’s doing it, it has a different appeal,” says Gheihman. 

For Food's Sake Podcast: "From A to Veganism"

May 23, 2017

From 10-dollar plant-based smoothies in trendy Californian cafés to Vegan helmets in the Israeli Defense Force, Veganism is as diverse as it is topical. What is Veganism really all about, where has it come from and where is it heading? Is it a religion, a social movement, or an ideology?

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