1101 Scholarship

The 1101 Scholarship is a project by the VegVoyages Foundation for students who are vegan and vegetarian or students who may be inclined or interested to be vegan and vegetarian. The 1101 Scholarship is our way of providing support to those students to be the vegan voices of tomorrow. Our Last Year’s winners Rakshith and Eva can be seen here

Meet the vegans of tomorrow

Sujita

Sujita Bastola (Nepal)

Sujita, 21-year-old from Nepal, grew up surrounded by animals in her culturally rich village, fueling her compassion and commitment to vegetarianism. As the daughter of a teacher and a lawyer, she values her family deeply and aspires to be a sustainable fashion designer. Her compassion towards animals turned into activism when started taking care of stray community dogs Khairi and Jenny who got injured. With the 1101 Scholarship, she intends to launch animal birth control programs and rabies vaccination programs all while promoting Animal Welfare awareness. While on a continuing journey towards veganism, the scholarship for Sujita is a step towards advocating greater respect and care for animals.

Ankur

Ankur Arora (India)

Ankur, a 22-year-old from India, transitioned from a vegetarian upbringing to veganism due to inherent cruelty in the dairy industry. Driven by a desire to make a difference, Ankur joined vegan groups in Delhi and started outreach initiatives in his hometown. With a background in law, Ankur seeks to advocate for animal rights legally, aiming to bridge the knowledge gap regarding existing animal welfare laws. Ankur intends to further his vegan activism through campaigns, street outreaches, and collaborations with animal rescuers. For Ankur, veganism isn’t just a diet but a profound belief that, through collective effort, the world can become a more compassionate place for all beings.

Essays by Winners

Ankur Arora (India)

The 1101 Scholarship is a project by the VegVoyages Foundation for students who are vegan and vegetarian or students who may be inclined or interested to be vegan and vegetarian. The 1101 Scholarship is our way of providing support to those students to be the vegan voices of tomorrow. Our Last Year’s winners Rakshith and Eva can be seen here

Answer: The harsh truth that we are not ready to accept in today’s world is that millions of animals suffer or die daily, and yet we choose to live in ignorance. Ofcourse it is hard to accept it, because the day we understand the intensity of pain, suffering, and misery that we have led these animals into, we will not be able to forgive ourselves for eternity, and that is why I guess most people choose to live in ignorance. I myself lived in ignorance until 4 years ago, or say I was blinded by the advertisements and completely unaware of the fact that our food is the major reason that most of the animals are suffering today, be it hens, cows, goats, fish, etc. I realized that this needs to be changed, and honestly, that realization and awareness at that time were enough to motivate me to change my lifestyle from vegetarianism to veganism. I came across a famous quote years ago, and I still remember it: “Knowing what’s right doesn’t mean much unless you do what’s right”. I think we all should follow and understand the deep meaning this mere sentence holds, and if we do, we will understand that in no way is it right to harm or kill an innocent animal. I have also volunteered for animal rights for more than 1.5 years by trying to make people aware through street outreaches, campaigns, and even social media, and on certain occasions we got media attention which led us to reach more people. Although I found that most people are compassionate, but food is so ingrained in our lifestyle that people find it difficult to accept the truth. There are plenty of plant-based options easily accessible all around; it’s all about the habit that people find it difficult to change. Many vegans and plant-based food bloggers are also helping people who are transitioning to become a part of the change by providing recipes that are healthy and taste similar to their meat and dairy counterparts.

People also lack knowledge about implication and awareness of the existing laws. There are also provisions and a separate act for the prevention of animal cruelty, but the lack of knowledge and its implication fail to serve the purpose of the act many times. Being a law student, I am myself concerned about human rights, our fundamental rights, and also the rights of animals. It is important that people become aware that animals also have the right to life, and this is possible if our upcoming generation learns about it when they themselves are students in schools and colleges, as this is the period where people are open to new learnings and possibilities. It is important for people to understand that there is a possibility that we can coexist with animals without even harming them. Hence, I’ll use the fund wisely with a similar attitude, where I would work for the animals in different ways, by directly campaigning and bringing awareness, like I have done in the past, by feeding animals and donating to animal rescuers in need. There are many who devote their lives to animals, but funds and finances always become a struggle, especially in the treatment of animals, and many times they couldn’t save the life of an animal just because of a lack of funds. Hence, it is important that when animals are in need of treatment, we should donate what we can. If it’s possible, I’ll also try to locate and form an active society at my college or university to work together for the animals, where other students along with me work as a whole and in a team for a cause.

There has also been an increase in dog bites at my university and in the capital, Delhi; even I was bitten by a dog. But it was my silliness and mistake because I went and tried to touch a dog who was a total stranger to me. That day, I understood the lesson in a hard way, that people lack understanding of the nature of an animal, and we blame ourselves when it is our mistake. So, it is of utmost importance that we form a community and teach each other that we need to become friends with them, understand their past and traumas, and understand what they have been through in life before coming to conclusions. I believe this is important because if me being compassionate towards dogs could fall prey to such a huge mistake, then people who don’t understand them entirely could be more vulnerable to such incidences, and that has been proven in the past. So, I’ll also equip myself with more knowledge about such incidences and research the reasons why such incidences mostly occur, and thereafter, I’ll try to make people aware about the same to the people who are in my surroundings. Apart from the awareness, I’ll try to contact the rescuers and other responsible people to guide me upon the same. As there have been increase in dog bites the hatred for dogs has also risen, this matter should be taken in consideration. I’ll use the remaining 2/3rd of the fund towards my education, which is for my college, and also for pursuing a few courses so that I can develop some important skills along with it.
People still take veganism lightly, and they have had a myth on a very large scale that vegans lack nutrients and don’t survive well. Hence, it is important that we people who are powered by plants take good care of ourselves, have a well-balanced plant-based diet, set an example for others, and bust the myth that vegans are not fit and healthy. Today we live in a society where we are so lost with ourselves that we forget that other creatures and animals are part of this world, which really needs to be changed, and that is why it is important for us to do our bit in whatever way we can so that the hope that every human carries for the change doesn’t go in vain. We all need to let go of our fears and move ahead with love and compassion in our hearts to become a part of the change. I believe we, together with our individual efforts, can change the world for humans as well as for animals little by little. I still believe that there is still a part in each and every one of us that has a soft corner and compassion for animals, which is what keeps me optimistic. This is why we should never lose hope, stay strong, and keep putting in efforts in whatever way we can, because even if there is a slight chance that the world could be a better place, all the efforts we put in are worth every while.

Sujita Bastola

Explain in no less than 1101 words on your connection with the 1101 Scholarship and how you’d propose to use the Scholarship amount of $1101 for both your education and for vegan activism if you were to receive it. If you were to receive the fund, you will be required to spend a minimum of one-third of your scholarship award towards vegan activism to raise awareness in your country and in your community about animal rights, veganism, plant based living and it’s benefits, conservation and animal protection.

Answer: When I first learned about the 1101 scholarship, I found myself torn about whether to apply. It wasn’t an easy decision, but as days went by, a powerful thought took root in my mind – the impact I could have on the lives of numbers of animals with the financial support this scholarship would provide.

I must admit, I’m not yet a full-fledged vegan. In fact, just three years ago, I had no idea what veganism even meant. Back then, I believed that being a vegetarian was the most humane way to reduce animal suffering. Growing up in a small village where almost everyone raised cows or buffaloes, I witnessed the daily ritual of milking these animals. However, there were times when these creatures hesitated to cooperate, leading to cruel punishments such as beatings or withholding food. This deeply troubled me because I firmly believed that every living being should have control over their own body. I used to engage in debates with my parents, imploring them not to harm these innocent animals. While I did manage to bring about some change within my family, I realized that my influence on society at large was limited. Sadly, society remained unchanged, and animals continued to suffer when humans didn’t get what they wanted.

While I’m not a full-fledged vegan, my journey towards embracing plant-based living began when my doctor diagnosed me with sinus issues, advising me to avoid dairy. This dietary restriction, initially met with scepticism in my Hindu society where dairy is considered sacred, turned out to be a source of unexpected happiness. I took charge of my own cooking, discovering the wonders of tofu and soy milk. These plant-based alternatives soon became my culinary obsessions. As I experimented in the kitchen, I created plant-based dishes that closely resembled their animal-based counterparts. To my surprise, my family sometimes couldn’t even distinguish between the Flavors of these dishes. This inspired me to delve deeper into research, uncovering the nutritional benefits and environmental sustainability of plant-based foods.

I had a pet dog, and to me, the buffalo and cows in our village were no different from my beloved canine companion. I loved them all equally, just as I loved my fellow humans. When these animals fell ill, I would sit by their side, speaking to them in our unique language – a peculiar yet heartfelt way of expressing my empathy. Over time, my experiences and reflections began to transform me. I began to see those animals, whether pets or livestock, deserved kindness, respect, and autonomy. This realization has slowly but profoundly influenced my perspective.

One day, I came across two stray dogs in my village, which I affectionately named “Khairi and Jenny.” They were a mother and daughter duo. I cared for them just as much as I did for my pet dog, “Steffi.” Later, I discovered that Khairi and Jenny were pregnant. Seeing their puppies later, I couldn’t help but want to assist them. I arranged for their adoption when they were ready, and it brought me immense joy. However, I was disheartened when i found out some of the puppies were later abandoned.

I realized that if Khairi and Jenny had been spayed from the beginning, it could have prevented the suffering of those puppies. To prevent such situations in the future, I reached out to various organizations and veterinarians, but I faced challenges. They insisted on bringing the dogs to Kathmandu, which was not feasible for me at the time as I was just a high school student studying in my village. As a temporary solution I called in local vet and vaccinated them.

If I were to receive the scholarship, my immediate goal would be to organize animal birth control programs and awareness campaigns. These initiatives would involve spaying and cleaning dogs, with the support of local veterinary clinics and interested individuals.

Several years ago, I experienced another distressing incident. In our village, there was a stray dog displaying signs of aggression, and it had bitten both people and other animals. Unfortunately, due to concerns about rabies, the villagers felt compelled to execute the dog.
One of my heartfelt commitments, if I am fortunate enough to receive this scholarship, is to contribute to rabies vaccination efforts for stray dogs. My first step would be to initiate this effort in my own village. I would raise awareness about the importance of rabies vaccinations for dogs, educate the community on how to recognize the signs of rabies in dogs, and provide guidance on what actions to take if someone is bitten. This cause is deeply important to me, as I believe that through compassion and education, we can make a significant difference in the lives of these vulnerable animals.

In Nepal, animals, particularly dogs, are often victims of hit-and-run accidents. About three years ago, while returning home from a vacation, I encountered a heart-wrenching incident involving a dog named Jenny. I had seen Jenny earlier during my vacation and called out to her. Tragically, the next day, I learned that she had been hit by a car while simply resting by the roadside. When I reached her, she appeared on the verge of losing consciousness. I desperately sought help from several people, everyone I approached believed she was beyond help and refused assistance. Undeterred, I cradled Jenny in my arms and transported her to a local veterinarian using public transportation. After months of dedicated care and struggle, Jenny managed to survive, but with the loss of one eye. My father, recognizing my deep love and commitment to this street dog, generously covered the expenses during that difficult time.

The animal protection laws in Nepal are currently quite weak. Offenders face a maximum penalty of three months in prison or a fine ranging from $5 to $50. In contrast, international law stipulates a far stricter punishment: up to 10 years of imprisonment and a substantial fine, along with a serious mark on the offender’s record. While I might not have the power to change the law on my own, I am committed to advocating for stronger animal rights and rescuing animals in need. Every effort counts, and I will do my best to make a difference for these vulnerable beings.

Ever since I was a child, my dream has been to become a fashion designer, but not just any designer – I aspire to be a designer for change. As I became more aware of issues like global warming and environmental concerns, I realized the importance of sustainable and eco-friendly fashion. The fashion industry, much like the meat industry, plays a significant role in waste and pollution.

To align with my values, I made the switch from fast fashion to shopping at thrift stores. My next goal, set for the end of this year and the beginning of the next, is to open my own thrift store. What’s unique is that I plan to allocate 10 percent of the store’s profits toward animal welfare. I believe in giving back and making a positive impact. The scholarship funds would serve as the initial boost to kickstart my business and contribute to a cause I deeply care about.
The 1101 scholarship represents an opportunity for me to further my education, deepen my understanding of animal welfare, and make a positive impact on the lives of animals in my community and beyond. While I may not yet be a vegan, my heart and intentions are aligned with the principles of compassion and animal welfare. I am in process of converting my diet to fully vegan and to learn more, advocate for change, and working towards a world where animals are treated with the respect and care they deserve.