The Rapidian

Kolene Allen veganizes GR, vies for award

Kolene Allen, local Grand Rapids environment supporter, talks about being vegan and protecting the environment. Her efforts have garnered her recognition as a future leader at the Women and the Environment Symposium.
Underwriting support from:

/courtesy of Kolene Allen

Community members nominated Kolene Allen as a future leader for the second annual Women and the Environment Symposium. The event, sponsored by the West Michigan Environmental Action Council (WMEAC), Grand Valley State University's Women's Center and the Sustainable Community Development Initiative, honors women who have made an impact or offer future improvement for West Michigan's environment.

Allen is a co-founder of Vegan Grand Rapids, an effort encouraging Grand Rapids citizens to become better stewards. The site informs citizens how to live a vegan lifestyle, what restaurants to go to and ultimately how to be better stewards of their environment.

Although Allen is now an avid supporter of the environment, her decision to become vegan began with the animal rights issue.

"My life took a turn for the meatless around 2002," Allen says about her journey as a vegan. "One day, I looked at my dog and thought what was the difference between a dog and a pig or a cat and a cow? I just didn't want to eat animals anymore."

"It wasn't until animal rights activists started condemning Al Gore for not being vegetarian," Allen says,"that I learned about the impacts on the environment." Through research, Allen not only discovered the health benefits of living vegan, but also "what factory farming does to our planet." Allen now attributes her lifestyle to environmental as well as animal concerns. Allen talks about the facts and figures that helped her decision-making on Vegan Grand Rapids' website.

Allen's efforts for environmental health include more than just her Vegan Grand Rapids campaign. As the Information Systems Technician at the Grand Rapids Public Library, Allen took initiative with creating The Green Team, a committee of five individuals dedicated to promoting sustainability.

"It started with the styrofoam packaging," she says. Allen noticed the amount of packaging the library was tossing out and began an internal movement to promote recycling. For several years, Allen acted as leader to what she jokingly calls "the recycling police." The library effort eventually blossomed into Earth Week Programming - an effort including classes on how to repurpose old t-shirts and other environmentally friendly practices.

Allen says that being environmentally friendly is not as hard as it looks. She advises people to help themselves and their local environment by cutting out small things each week.

"Just take baby steps," she says.


The Rapidian, a program of the 501(c)3 nonprofit Community Media Center, relies on the community’s support to help cover the cost of training reporters and publishing content.

We need your help.

If each of our readers and content creators who values this community platform help support its creation and maintenance, The Rapidian can continue to educate and facilitate a conversation around issues for years to come.

Please support The Rapidian and make a contribution today.

Comments, like all content, are held to The Rapidian standards of civility and open identity as outlined in our Terms of Use and Values Statement. We reserve the right to remove any content that does not hold to these standards.