Meet the Vegan Hacktivists: Team Leader Suan Chin
Suan Chin is the Team Strawberry team lead! Team Strawberry takes on projects that involve all things data. They are a team of incredibly smart and talented individuals that we are so thankful to have. Suan Chin and her team work on analytics for our projects and are also working on some big projects of their own that you should watch out for! Suan Chin amazes us every day with her drive to get work done, her technical knowledge, and her devotion to the cause. We know you’re going to love reading her story!
How did you end up joining/finding out about Vegan Hacktivists (VH)?
I was a frequent lurker of r/vegan and knew about VH but they only seemed to be interested in developers who know PHP and Laravel. I only knew python. Then one day when I was browsing I saw the announcement that VH was looking for a python developer! I applied, told them in the application that I'm a machine learning engineer, I'm not sure what they're looking for but I can do almost anything in python so I think I'll most probably be able to figure it out. And here we are :).
What is your day job or notable experience?
I'm a data scientist with a company that provides insights and analytics in the medical field. I mostly train and deploy machine learning models that do language tasks at work. I work in python and Java and may have to pick up Scala and Spark soon. A lot of the job is about understanding the business problem, scoping it out to see if machine learning is a suitable and necessary solution, and then working out the details and getting it done.
What do you love most about being part of the VH team?
The people. I've met so many great friends here. I think the community is amazing and allows people like myself, for whom coding may be the thing they're best at, to contribute efficiently to the animal rights movement.
Have you had any challenges you’ve overcome within your VH role?
I'm not sure if I've overcome any but I'm working on some. A big challenge is learning how to recruit suitable people for suitable projects. I aim to place people where they want to be, I find that that's when they feel fulfilled and can be the most efficient. However, that's difficult to gauge and I don't always do it very well. Another challenge is that life gets busy and my day job can get very stressful at times. At those times I find it difficult to find more mental capacity to work on VH.
How long have you been vegan and what made you go vegan?
I don't know how long I've been vegan. I was raised vegetarian and always felt like veganism was something to aspire to. When I started living alone in late 2018, I could barely cook. My breakfasts were cornflakes and milk, I would buy the cornflakes and get the milk from the office's fridge and have my breakfasts in the office. My other meals were fried rice with eggs, tomatoes, and lettuce. I realized how close I was to being vegan, I really only had to start having soy milk and buy tofu instead. So about 2-3 months after I started living by myself, I started trying to go vegan. I wasn't a very good vegan, had a longer than necessary transition period, but I started to learn about the dairy industry and egg industry. Eventually, I became exposed to the ethical arguments through r/vegan, youtube, and finally, animal liberation. I'm an ethical vegan now and I believe it is the greatest moral emergency of our time and everyone at the very least needs to read Animal Liberation by Peter Singer to give this topic thoughtful consideration and decide for themselves where they stand.
What do you like to do outside of working on VH?
I play jiujitsu, I swim, I read, I play the piano. I like to dive, swimming with fishes and other wildlife is incredible, but it's something I only get to do while travelling. I actually also really love coding, I taught myself how to code towards the tail end of my masters and would spend hours on it every day. But nowadays I do so much coding at work that I don't have much mental energy to do it for fun, even though I do have some ideas I'd like to execute one day.
What is one piece of advice you’d give to yourself in your early stages of veganism?
Bread is vegan. Honestly, I thought it wasn't, but that's just how bad I was at cooking and how little I knew about food. They're not exaggerating when they say you can find anything in a vegan version. Also that every time you're tempted to consume an animal product because it's convenient, or you crave it, remember that there are many cruelty-free things you can do in this world to enjoy yourself and have a good time, but if you choose that one thing, you pay for an animal to go through a life of hell and die. Actions have consequences and it's very easy to be vegan once you realize that.
What is one anti-vegan argument you can’t stand?
Oh man so many. I can't stand the ones that say vegans are racist when we draw parallels between animal agriculture and other social injustices. It's just so myopic. Injustices are committed because the perpetrators do not see the victims as deserving of equal moral consideration.