Student group: go vegetarian for a week

The group will promote a “Pledge to be Veg” for one week with educational events on vegetarianism and veganism.

President Rebecca McDougle, left, and volunteers Nicholas Orth, middle, and Alexa Nelson are part of the Compassionate Action for Animals student group.

Chelsey Rosetter

President Rebecca McDougle, left, and volunteers Nicholas Orth, middle, and Alexa Nelson are part of the Compassionate Action for Animals student group.

by Katherine Lymn

Over 500 students at the University of Minnesota will go either vegetarian or vegan for one week beginning Tuesday as part of the sixth annual Veg Week . The week, which is organized by the student group Compassionate Action for Animals (CAA), promotes vegetarianism and veganism and is offering more events than last yearâÄôs Veg Week. CAA president and genetics major Becca McDougle said that for some days during the week, two or three different activities are offered to pledges; for last yearâÄôs Veg Week, only one event was scheduled for each day of the week. The group was able to host more events this year because it received many donations from local businesses as well as student fees funding this year, which it did not last year, McDougle said. Benjamin Kutschied , the groupâÄôs director of volunteer programs, said that as of Monday, the group had accumulated approximately 500 pledges; he expected that number to grow to about 800 pledges by the end of the week. Although Kutschied said involvement has increased over the past few years, this yearâÄôs numbers are similar to those of last year. âÄúSo far, itâÄôs going pretty well,âÄù CAA member Nicholas Orth said. Orth said students may find vegetarianism is easier than they first predicted. âÄúWeâÄôd like [pledges] to realize that eating vegetarian is not difficult if you do it well and if youâÄôre around people that support you. It can be very enjoyable, tasty, fun and extremely healthy,âÄù he said. A speech by research scientist Jonathon Balcombe will kick off the week; organizers expect the speech to bring in a large number of pledges. Orth said Balcombe has done research focusing on animalsâÄô ability to feel pleasure. âÄúYou hear a lot about animals feeling pain all the time, and itâÄôs true, but it gets to be depressing, so weâÄôre trying to have an upbeat start to Veg Week and have the speaker talk about the positive side,âÄù she said. Other events include a film about animal emotions, a vegan cooking class and âÄúdine outsâÄù at local restaurants with vegetarian and vegan options. First-year student Jennifer Wang , who joined CAA in February as a Post Secondary Enrollment Options student, said CAA is both a student group and a part of a larger Twin Cities group. âÄúOur main goal is to promote vegetarianism and veganism, because itâÄôs a decision that people make every day,âÄù Wang said. âÄúWe do things like outreach, and we also do community building just to help people who are already vegan or vegetarian to have a support group of sorts.âÄù McDougle said that, in her experience, most students who pledge to be vegetarian or vegan carry through with the commitment. âÄúOne week isnâÄôt a huge commitment,âÄù McDougle said. âÄúIâÄôd say a pretty high percent [of pledges] who are serious about it will stay vegetarian or vegan for the whole week.âÄù