Turkeyless feast expands off campus

Emma Carew

Mashed potatoes, pumpkin pies, stuffing and green bean casseroles lined the table, just like any other Thanksgiving feast. But there wasn’t a turkey.

In place of the traditional turkey sat 14 vegetarian roasts, donated by Tofurky, a company that specializes in vegetarian food.

About 130 people gathered Saturday afternoon to celebrate Thanksgiving in a “cruelty-free,” vegan and vegetarian feast, hosted by Compassionate Action for Animals, campaign coordinator Gil Schwartz said.

In the past, the event has been in Coffman Union, Schwartz said, but this year the group relocated to the University Tech Center in Dinkytown in hopes of involving more community members.

This year the event drew a larger turnout than past years, he said.

“It’s a great opportunity to build up the vegetarian community on campus,” Schwartz said. “Oftentimes when (students) go home, they face tensions and opposition at the table because they’re the only ones not eating the bird.”

Enoch Lavelle, of Seward said he came because he is Schwartz’s neighbor.

Lavelle said he has lived as both a vegetarian and a vegan.

He called the turkey-free feast “a good step in the right direction.”

“It’s beautiful,” Lavelle said. “No one had to die to be here.”

Alice Battey, co-coordinator of the event, said she was happy to see a fair number of parents with children and people of all different age groups represented.

“A lot of people have the impression that eating vegetarian or vegan narrows your options,” she said. “(This event) allows students to celebrate the holiday without family, who might not be supportive of them being vegetarian or vegan.”

Lacey Morgan, a Minneapolis resident, said she came with a friend who attends the University.

Morgan said she likes to see these kinds of events because the vegetarian lifestyle isn’t portrayed often enough in society.

To celebrate with other vegetarians is “great camaraderie,” she said.

Compassionate Action for Animals volunteer Matt Sexter said for students who are new to the vegetarian or vegan lifestyle, “It’s really helpful to have people around you.”

“Then you have a firm foundation of what you’re doing and why,” he said.

Sexter said the event helps to show students they don’t have to give up taste and variety to have a lifestyle that’s sustainable to the world.

People of varying lifestyles from students to families gathered to share the feast.

“These types of events support what I’m trying to teach my boys and how I’m raising them,” Minneapolis resident Jody Patton said.

Patton attended the event with her three sons, all of whom are vegan.

“It’s definitely nice to have the opportunity to socialize with like-minded people,” she said.

Patton’s 13-year-old son Philip said he likes being vegan.

“It’s just disgusting to think about going back,” he said.

According to a 2004 study done by Aramark, 25 percent of responding University students indicated they would like to see more vegan options in University Dining Services.

“As students are becoming aware of factory-farm cruelties, a lot of people are looking for alternatives,” Schwartz said. “This is just a way to show that you can still have great food that’s both healthy and cruelty-free without eating the bird.”