Late in Autumn Quarter, the SAGE Sustainable Dining Committee decided to make a splash on campus with VegWeek, an initiative to encourage students to eat less meat. So the committee came up with our plan: we would encourage students to take pledges to become vegetarian or vegan for a week while stressing the environmental benefits of eating less meat.
We feverously began emailing companies, asking them if they would be willing to donate free samples to us. We were overjoyed to find boxes of apple chips, protein shakes, vegan gummies, vegan soap, vegan cheese, coupons, and manna bread at our doors in the weeks that followed. We were also extremely lucky to get Gabrielle Darvassy of B'Gabs Goodies and Nathan Wise of Arize Kombucha to speak at our events.
When VegWeek officially started, we were immediately met with success. As we were getting ready to table in the Reynolds Club, a man approached us saying that he had heard about VegWeek and wanted to donate to our cause. He pulled twenty plush beanie vegetables out of his backpack, which he had leftover from his own sustainability event. "You can give them to the first twenty people who sign your pledge!" he told us. We were in complete shock and we thanked him profusely while we set these adorable carrots, pumpkins, cucumbers, watermelons and beets on our table. We were so touched that a complete stranger would donate to the event.
And the day only got better! As it was our first VegWeek, we had no idea what kind of response we would get but the table was exceedingly popular. All day, we received an influx of people who had heard of VegWeek as well as those who just happened to be walking by. I found the eagerness of the student body to embark on this challenge with us exceedingly inspiring.
The VegWeek events also went exceptionally well. Gabrielle Darvassy, owner of B'Gabs Goodies, spoke to us about the benefits of a raw vegan diet on Monday diet. "The nutrients in raw food are more accessible to the body," Darvassy said.
Wednesday's talk with the very lively Nathan Wise of Arize Kombuacha proved to be both fun and informative. While we all drank samples of his delicious kombucha—which is made from fermented Yerba mate tea—he explained the science and value of kombucha. It works, he says, to make our vital organs function more efficiently and strengthens our immune system, making our bodies happier and healthier. "It's the easiest way for someone to do something good for themselves," Wise said energetically.
VegWeek pledges prevented 2 tons of GHG emissions
VegWeek was a definite success. We had over 100 students pledge to go vegetarian all week, which prevented roughly 2 tons of greenhouse gas emissions. We also opened a major dialogue about the vegetarian lifestyle and making wise diet choices. All week I have heard students discussing VegWeek and have been so pleased to hear from my friends that going meatless really isn't that hard. I am confident that VegWeek has made the student body more aware of what they put on their plates and hopefully has inspired some to continue eating less meat and dairy. On behalf of the Sustainable Dining Committee, we look forward to VegWeek 2014!