Sanctuary for Herbivores

BY CATHERINE KRUSE | Evergreen reporter

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In the land of omnivores, it is a wonder how the plant eaters at WSU survive.

VegWSU is a campus group representing the vegetarian and vegan community and providing resources for people interested in the lifestyle. The club also serves to educate people on the different reasons for choosing this lifestyle.

Started by current club President Tia Monzingo and advised by education professor John Lupinacci, VegWSU started as a dining club with the prospect of a different member bringing a different recipe or dish to meetings.

“I like the reaction from other people, like ‘There are other vegetarians?’ It makes me feel like making the club was justified,” Monzingo said.

Some of the dishes brought to meetings include quinoa salad, cheapo vegetable korma and Moroccan spiced chickpea soup. International dishes come up often, such as Thai and Indian food.

In some locations, plant-based diets are a part of the culture. An example is Thailand with Buddhism and areas where there wasn’t much meat to begin with, said Shannon MacKenzie, junior and club vice president.

Because Pullman is a meat-based community, Monzingo said people may think it’s harder to switch to a plant-based diet than it really is. One of the main concerns with a plant-based diet is the protein source and intake.

“I have been a vegetarian for eight years,” said club secretary and senior Sarah Fondaw. “Everyone thinks that your food gets limited, but I’ve found the opposite.”

Fondaw said people don’t need excessive amounts of protein to stay healthy, and it’s not hard to find. Apart from tofu, foods such as legumes, broccoli, eggs and Greek yogurt have amounts of protein similar to meat.

Health is one of the reasons some people choose to be vegetarian or vegan. For MacKenzie, the motivation was for animal welfare. While she still consumes eggs and dairy, she only buys from companies that treat animals kindly.

Monzingo, who is from a hunting family, said she became a vegetarian for similar reasons.

“It was really hard growing up to be a vegetarian,” Monzingo said. “When I came to college I switched partly because I always loved animals and that led to studying wildlife ecology.”

The club is fairly new, having started just last semester. One of its goals this year is reaching out to local businesses, Monzingo said. For example, in exchange for having a meeting at South Fork restaurant, a vegan dish was added to the menu.

“I hope we have an impact on the community here,” MacKenzie said. “Leave more vegetarian and vegan-friendly options in Pullman.”

For people wanting to become vegetarians or vegans, the club has resources like recipes and a guide to the restaurants around Pullman.

MacKenzie said that when one craves meat it probably means they’re low on protein. She suggested portabella mushrooms or eggs. A common misconception is that taking meat out of the meal makes food very bland, but MacKenzie said this is not the case.

“Just try it and see how you feel,” Fondaw said. “There’s nothing wrong with just trying it.”

VegWSU meets at 6 p.m. on Mondays. See the VegWSU Facebook page for meeting places: https://www.facebook.com/groups/vegwsu/