By Nathan Ress and Megan Rooney
Features Editor and Features Contributor
Riding the wave of recent student interest and activism, the Canisius College Vegan/Vegetarian Club has been taking a leadership role in bringing new dining and healthy options to the Canisius campus, as well as spreading awareness for dietary restriction culture.
Inspired by the idea of “eating with a purpose,” the members of Veg Club are making it easier for the students of Canisius College to be vegans or vegetarians while simultaneously eating healthier foods. While all the members of Veg Club have become vegans or vegetarians for their own unique reasons, many do so along the lines of spirituality, diet, or ethical beliefs. Despite their individual approaches, each member holds the shared ideals of reducing animal suffering while simultaneously contributing to a healthy culture.
But this does not mean that to be a member of Veg Club, one must be a fanatic of sorts. It is quite the opposite. As Veg Club president and eight-year vegan Marissa Mykietyn explained, “It’s not about purity, it’s about doing your part.” Veg Club welcomes anyone who is interested in participating, no matter the degree of their commitment to dietary restrictions, be it a once-a-week meat fast or part-time vegetarianism. The club hosts bi-weekly meetings, usually Tuesday evenings, at which they discuss upcoming events, share personal anecdotes and experiences, and of course eat vegetarian and vegan dishes such as a vegan cheese platter, Ben and Jerry’s almond ice cream, or vegan jerky. The club meetings offer a supportive, social, and educational environment for all who are considering a transition to dietary change or have already done so.
The club also recently sponsored yet another installment of their Meatless Mondays initiative. The initiative tries to encourage students to eliminate meat from their diet for just one day a week, showing the difference that can be made from only a small change. The club set up a grill in front of Palisano and served up vegan burgers and hot dogs. The Griffin was able to stop in at this event and sample the provided dishes. They proved to exceed expectations and were a filling and enjoyable meal. Many students attended the event, keeping the student cooks busy and the grills burning. Even English Professor and vegetarian Janet McNally was spotted at the event with her family enjoying some tasty student-cooked food.
This year there are many new vegetarian and vegan options available for members of Veg Club, as well as any student looking to eat healthy. By now students have certainly noticed Pitchforks, the newest vegan- and vegetarian-friendly eatery located in the dining hall. “Chartwells has been really amazing,” said Mykietyn. The staff is well-informed and passionate about the food that they serve and are very willing to work with students on designing new menu options, as well as answer any questions students may have. Furthermore, club member Grace Lindsey added that Chartwells is working to “provide options that are not only vegan or vegetarian but also healthy.” Mykietyn and Lindsey especially cited Jennifer DiFrancesco, unit manager, as a driving force for the on-campus change. Chartwells representatives will be meeting with Veg Club this upcoming week to discuss changes up to this point as well as progress that is still to be made.
Another on-campus option is “On the Go,” located in the basement of Old Main as well as Science Hall. They offer a variety of options such as vegan baked goods, salads, fruit, and sandwiches. This year their products have been revamped with new labels that allow students to clearly see the ingredients and caloric value of what they are eating. Lastly, students can go to Iggy’s for vegan burgers, which are provided by a local restaurant to ensure quality and freshness.
Off-campus, there are also a great deal of vegan and vegetarian eateries within close proximity to Canisius. Mykietyn and Lindsey shared a few of their favorites. First, Amy’s Place on Main Street in University Heights is a favorite among vegans/vegetarians and non-dietary restricted students alike. Amy’s Place serves up classic and diet-friendly Mediterranean and American diner food. Also recommended is Grindhaus Cafe on Allen Street. Grindhouse serves up delicious coffee as well as sandwiches both vegan and otherwise. Finally, Perks Cafe on Elmwood Avenue makes the recommendations list, serving up vegan/vegetarian friendly coffee, baked goods, salads, sandwiches, and wraps.
If one is interested in getting involved in Veg Club, there are many exciting opportunities coming up. As stated, the club meets once every other week on Tuesday evenings. They also have a vast array of upcoming events currently in the works. During the fall semester, the club plans on visiting the Asha Animal Sanctuary, in Newfane, New York, where one can see preserved farm animals in an open and gorgeous space. On September 25, Veg Club is helping sponsor the Grilled Cheese and Smoothie Night on campus, serving and informing students about vegan options. Also, on October 13, Veg Club will be welcoming Carol J. Adams, who will be speaking on the negative impact of meat advertisements both from an environmentalist and feminist perspective. Lastly, in the spring semester, Veg Club hopes to visit another animal sanctuary, as well as host at least one other speaker.
The Canisius College Vegan and Vegetarian Club, though neither the newest or largest club on campus, is already causing a significant splash. They continue to prove themselves an accepting and open-minded group dedicated to social change on campus. Going forward, students should certainly look out for more exciting moves from the Veg Club.