BEIRUT: Hayek Hospital welcomed hundreds of enthusiastic guests as active members of the Lebanese vegan community organized the very first regional vegan conference and exhibition on its premises.
The educational event was put together by the combined forces of “Lebanese Vegans”, “Anonymous for the Voiceless”, and “Choose Compassion” that prioritize spreading awareness in Lebanon about the pivotal issue of animal exploitation and its substantially negative repercussions; a matter being increasingly addressed by a plethora of international communities.
Veganism embraces a lifestyle free of exploiting animals and animal products in any way, but the edifying event that took place Saturday emphasized mostly the dietary aspect of the health and environmentally-conscious movement.
George Hayek, founder of “Lebanese Vegans” and owner of Hayek Hospital, told Annahar: “The entire purpose of our movement is to help people realize that their daily choices have large-scale consequences. Choosing a cruelty-free lifestyle can only benefit their and the planet’s health.”
Hayek commenced the conference with a heartfelt speech in which he, amongst other statements, described how he became vegan eight years ago. According to Hayek, cuddling his pet dog felt strange after seeing a slaughterhouse video shared on Facebook by a friend whom he used to consider an extremist “annoying” vegan.
He began noticing the sentient soul in his pet’s eyes, which exists in every animal that gets turned into a burger, and realized the irrationality of cuddling and protecting one animal while confidently eating the other.
Hayek also posed a stimulating question to the attentive audience, “How can people sign petitions to stop eating dogs in china and be fine with eating other animals themselves? There is no difference between a dog and a cow, chicken, or fish. All will fight for their lives when being slaughtered.”
Additionally, Hayek highlighted recent studies that found how all diseases are linked to animal products. He discussed how the World Health Organization classifies processed meat as a Group A carcinogenic, like tobacco.
To further clarify the health and spiritual implications of consuming animal products, plant-based dietician Samira Oufan and holistic nutritionist Joelle Ghali delivered well-established, factual presentations which astounded all attendees.
Georges Achkar Saleme and Rami Merza spoke on the behalf of Anonymous for the Voiceless, a non-profit international organization devoted to vegan activism.
AV has been organizing multiple cubes of truth in all areas of Lebanon. The volunteers who constitute the Cube team wear “Guy Fawkes” masks and dress in black from head to toe while standing tall and still in a cube formation. They hold signs and video footage revealing what slaughtered animals experience on a momentary basis.
Saleme told Annahar how at the cubes of truth being held, Lebanese people are exhibiting open-mindedness and offering support to the crucial cause. He also added how some viewers cry while watching the monstrous murdering of innocent creatures that takes place behind slaughterhouse walls.
Another speaker was Roland Azar who methodically discussed the value system in society and how the belief that animals are here for humans and not with them damages humans, animals, and most importantly, the environment.
At the food market, heaps of attendees excitedly refreshed their palates tasting the varied products of multiple local vegan restaurants, bakeries, and brands, including “Taqa on the Go”, “Coara Vegan Cuisine”, “Ada’s Kitchen”, “Kamakan”, “Gym Bar”, “Vegan Kaslik”, “Badass Vegan Cookies”, “Coconoix” and much more.
The food stands displayed a variety of nutritious, cruelty-free vegan dishes, desserts, drinks, snacks, protein shakes, and even gym supplements.
“I don’t understand what’s considered hard about going vegan,” Tara Soueidan said. “You can still eat yummy burgers, cakes, pizzas, and anything really without hurting animals nor your health in the process!”
Pascal Georges, another young attendee, told Annahar that going vegan cured her hyperglycemia and regulated the glucose levels in her body, needless of any chemical medicine.
The Boutros sisters also advocated the healthiness that accompanies a plant-based diet. “Our bodies feel so much lighter and energized. We no longer experience the painful bloating that followed carnivorous meals when we were still meat-eaters,” they told Annahar.
“I turned vegan three years ago,” Corine Khoueiry, another vegan attendee said. “I couldn’t close my eyes to the horrific videos and images of slaughterhouses which were all over social media, so I decided to not contribute to such a cruel industry.”
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