Vegan students start grass roots campaign

Erica Magda

By Rachel Small

Liam Bird doesn’t eat meat.

Or eggs.

Or honey.

Bird, a sophomore in LAS, is a vegan. While vegetarians abstain from meat, vegans do not eat any other animal products either.

Bird became a vegetarian while still in high school because of his objections to the meat industry. He said veganism was the next step.

“I ended up looking further into it and understanding that the dairy that I was eating or any of the leftover things that were animal byproducts were just as harmful and they were tied to the animal slaughterhouses in the same way,” Bird said. “So I had to pretty much just reject all of it altogether.”

Kevin Swanson, junior in Engineering, is an resident advisor for Allen Hall and runs a group there for vegetarians and vegans called Veg Life. He said the group discusses improvements that can be made inside the residence halls, plans events like a Halloween bash and spreads awareness about vegetarianism and veganism.

Swanson is vegetarian but has been vegan in the past. He said he gave up veganism because it was too hard to do within the residence halls, where there is room for improvement.

“Eighty percent of the days, though, if you’re vegan, you can eat, it’s fine,” Swanson said. “But sometimes you go down there and you eat pasta almost every day. You look at the sauce and you have meat sauce and Alfredo sauce, or meat and creamy pesto, both of which are not vegan, so then you’re forced to scrounge around.”

University dining offers residents Field of Greens, a vegetarian and vegan dining option located between Allen Hall and Lincoln Avenue Residence Hall. The specialty dining hall is open weekdays for lunch.

Bird said he eats at Field of Greens regularly, but has problems finding nutritious options when it is closed.

“Field of Greens is great, they have us covered for lunch,” Bird said. “Dinner is ridiculously hard.”

Both Bird and Swanson mentioned The Red Herring as a good option for vegan and vegetarian students. The Red Herring is a vegan restaurant founded by the Unitarian-Universalist Channing-Murray Foundation.

Chad Knowles, restaurant manager at The Red Herring, started out volunteering for the restaurant as a dishwasher and was drawn to the unique atmosphere.

“For me, at the time, having all the vegan food, and the environment, and all the people that were down here that were exposed to the idea of vegetarianism helped me to go from being vegetarian to being vegan for a while,” Knowles said. “I wouldn’t have done it if I hadn’t been exposed from this place.”

Knowles said people often think veganism leads to less variety, but he has found the restrictions force him to get creative.

While The Red Herring offers options and variety for vegan students, Knowles said vegans should also try taking their diet into their own hands.

“My advice to somebody who was thinking about going vegan would definitely be to try and teach yourself how to cook, and not to rely on eating out,” Knowles said. “I mean, I would give that advice to anyone, but when you’re altering your diet like that, you should know what you’re doing when you do that.”

Aaron White, sophomore in FAA, is a vegetarian because he felt it was healthier and better for his work as a dancer. He said he would eventually like to go vegan after he moves on from residence hall life.

“I do plan on going vegan, maybe after I graduate,” he said. “When I can pay for my own food.”