This Featured Leader issue offers insight into the life of Janelle Duyck, a vegan lawyer working as a Compliance Management Associate at Citibank N.A. in New York City. Janelle’s background intersects some of the most influential professional fields: law, politics and business. Janelle received her B.A. in Political Science from Willamette University, and her J.D. from Indiana University Maurer School of Law.
How long have you been vegan and what inspired you to it?
Janelle: I have been vegan for almost 7 years. My vegan trajectory started during my freshman year at Willamette University in Oregon where I took an environmental science course. Learning about the large-scale environmental impact of the meat consumption, along with the cruel treatment of animals, inspired me to become vegetarian. I transitioned to a vegan diet a couple years later because it better aligned with my personal ethics, but also because of the benefit to my personal health.
Do you know any other vegans or vegetarians in the legal profession? What is the general reaction of your colleagues?
Janelle: So far I have only come across two other vegan lawyers! The topic of food really only comes up during events when food is served. The reaction I get from other lawyers largely mirrors the reaction I have gotten from the general populace – people want to know why I am vegan and for how long.
What is your favorite vegan online resource?
Janelle: It may end up being VeganLeaders.com! I am encouraged by our LinkedIn community, and I look forward to connecting further with vegan peers through the site. I have benefited from many vegan websites over the last several years, but my favorite one is Meet the Shannons.
It seems that nowadays the vegan concept is going mainstream in ways that did not seem possible just a few years ago. Can you think of a recent anecdote of seeing something vegan related for the first time?
Janelle: In the past few years, and with increasing frequency, I have been seeing prominent public figures embrace a vegan lifestyle. When people like Beyoncé, Arian Foster, and Cory Booker talk about following a vegan diet, it exposes a larger audience to the benefits and ethics behind making that decision. I never expected to see a vegan senator.
What advice would you give to corporate professionals who are considering the vegan lifestyle but are hesitant about it?
Janelle: As a corporate professional you have already decided to be ambitious and to take control of your career. Choosing to be vegan allows you to align your ambition in your personal and professional life, to take charge of your health, and to live according to your values. Regardless of what drives you to consider a vegan lifestyle, be it health, ethics, or the environment, you owe it to yourself to try it. There is also no shame in easing into it – maybe you decide to eat vegan for breakfast every day for a week, and then for lunch too, and then for dinner; eventually it will become second nature. You will love the extra energy from your new vegan lifestyle to help power you through your long days at the office.
You have a very interesting background which encompasses politics, law, and business/finance. Tell us about your professional goals (for the next 5-10 years).
Janelle: I am drawn to the intersection of legal, regulatory, and business issues in compliance, so I see myself continuing in my current field. However, I hope to increase my involvement in non-profit/philanthropic work over the next 5-10 years, with organizations such as the New York Women’s Foundation.