Starting from 2012, with a massive flow of Syrian Armenians to Armenia, many things have changed in our country that has had a positive impact on economy, services, and even culture. Manuel Markeian is trying to raise awareness on the pros of the plant-based lifestyle, and the cons of eating animal products including meat, eggs, and/or dairy products. Manuel confesses that he refrained from consuming animal products after watching videos on animal slaughter that is detrimental to the human planet and the environment in general.

Two years ago, Manuel and his sister came to Armenia from Aleppo, Syria, with a definite purpose to settle down here. The first challenge they immediately faced was the lack of material resources and the language barriers – switching from Western Armenian to Eastern. He was quick enough to find a job at one of the Syrian Armenian restaurants and simultaneously applied for the preparatory courses at Yerevan State Medical University’s Department of General Medicine.

In 2015, on his mother’s recommendation, Manuel applied to FAR’s Scholarship for Syrian Armenians Program, and since then, 30% of his tuition has been covered by FAR.

“My inspiration to become a doctor comes from my mother. She is a doctor and works at a laboratory. However, my bigger aim is to become an optometrist. In Aleppo, I used to know an Arab optometrist: he was very famous and very inspirational. I liked his approach and methods of communicating with patients. He could brilliantly and easily communicate his ideas which I liked the most,” says Manuel.

In his first year at YSMU, Manuel had a hard time juggling his tasks at the restaurant and the university, so he quit the job. “My work at the restaurant started at 12:00pm and finished at 3:00am. I was wiped out and couldn’t concentrate on my classes after a 15-hour-workday,” he confirms.

Apart from studies, Manuel attends General English courses at AUA and is working on his book entitled Animal Liberation. “I think that animals and humans have much in common,” says Manuel. “Some of us like animals, some don’t. Some people keep animals, some don’t. There is no gap between humans and animals. It’s just a matter of brain capacity – humans are clever. My book spreads the message of this commonality between people and animals. I debunk the traditionally accepted idea that our grandparents have injected into us which says that meat is the most vital ingredient in our daily meals.”

The book is almost ready for publishing, but before that, on March 31, Manuel gave a presentation on the plant-based lifestyle and shared his views and knowledge on health, animals, and environmental aspects.

Great job, Manuel! We at FAR look forward to reading your book!