By Kelly Curtiss
On a typical Wednesday morning at the U of M, students are crossing the Washington Avenue bridge with their heads down, their eyes avoiding the sun, their headphones in their ears blocking out the noise around them. Once in awhile they look up to anticipate oncoming bicycle traffic, or greet a friend.
But on Wednesday, September 28th, a strange set of tables with a tent and a grill were occupying the space that normally sits empty in the landscape. That tent was Compassionate Action for Animals' Vegan Food Showcase to advocate for animal and the upcoming Veg Week. To many students' delight, it was offering free food.
The event was a smash hit. The table was constantly swamped with students trying out the food during the passing time between classes. Many students remembered Veg Week from last year and were very excited to take the Pledge to be Veg once again, promising to change their eating habits from October 1st through the 9th. They warmly remembered their favorite foods and restaurants that they enjoyed during that time. Some of the foods that students got to try were Silk soy milk and Coconut Bliss ice cream. The Gardein 7-Grain meat, which is made with grain, mimics real meat in both its taste and texture. The mock chicken crispy tenders and "beefless tips" were a big revelation for many students that veganism isn't just about salads. A surprising number of people the volunteers talked to were already vegetarians, and after the slightest coaxing, they pledged to take the inevitable plunge to be vegetarian or vegan for just one short week. During the lower traffic moments, passers-by were excited to hold an in-depth conversation with the volunteers. Once students had a little more information and asked some questions of a practicing vegetarian or a passionate vegan, they were much more likely to sign up.
The main selling point in convincing people to sign the pledge was to tell them about the support system the CAA offers for the week. The students who seemed wary about pledging initially warmed up to the idea once volunteers mentioned the available coupons, Vegetarian Starter Kit, and the supporting events held throughout Veg Week so that novices and experts alike can come together with questions and struggles. In total, 237 people pledged to join us in celebrating and participating in Veg Week!
CAA is proud to host Veg Week's exciting events, including a potluck on Saturday and a chicken sanctuary tour on Sunday. See you there!