The vegan vegetarian club will hold its first meeting and pot-luck-style dinner March 5 in the Newman Center at 6 p.m.
The event will introduce vegans and non-vegans alike to various whole food plant-based recipes that combine simple ingredients prepared with sapid flavors to satisfy even the conventional carnivore.
“I’ve wanted to do this for years,” said June MacArthur, the club coordinator. “I have been talking to anyone who will listen. I can’t get the support from the medical field. So it’s just like the saying to ‘follow the money.’ No doctor has been willing to come forward to tell people this is the way people should be eating.”
The club was formed in order to bring awareness to veganism, vegetarianism and other plant-based diets in Oswego County. The vegans and vegetarians of Oswego have one well-known farmers’ market called Green Planet and about three restaurants that cater to their dietary needs with none being completely vegan or vegetarian.
“We’ve been vegetarian most of the time for years,” MacArthur said. “We are trying to make the switch to vegan, but it’s hard to not have anybody else to help you out. We switched for the health reasons…. The movie Forks over Knives changed our lives. Both my husband and I had our older brothers die at 61 from Diabetes and Heart Disease because of family genes and how they ate… [that] made us change our eating habits… For the first 20-30 years of your life you can eat whatever you want but then you can’t.”
Vegans and vegetarians choose plant-based diets for different reasons. Vegans exclude all animal byproducts from their diet and lifestyle. Vegans do not eat meat, cheese, eggs or honey. Likewise, vegans do not wear fur or wool from animals and do not wear beauty products such as makeup and colognes that are tested on animals. Vegetarians do not eat meat or fish. A subset of vegetarianism, known as ovo-vegetarianism, is vegetarians who eat eggs and those who identify as lacto-vegetarian drink milk.
“I will have more than three people for sure but I’m thinking around 30,” MacArthur said. “If we get a big group were have different sections divided by those who change for health reasons and those who are animal rights activists.”
According to Oswego State’s registered dietitian, Sarah Formoza, Oswego’s auxiliary services are working to create new vegan friendly menu items.
“We understand the responsibility to serve a variety of foods to meet everyone’s dietary preference,” Formoza said.
As of right now, Oswego State only offers a handful of vegan and vegetarian options to students, including the black bean soup, California burger, and several variations of tofu.
“We are providing grilled veggie pinwheels for the potluck,” Formoza said. “They are wraps filled with hummus and grilled vegetables. They have a nice colorful presentation and students enjoy them when they are on the menu.”
MacArthur plans to hold vegan vegetarian club meetings every month. It will start with a pot-luck and end with a movie, lecture or group discussion about the benefits of whole food plant-based diets. She will also pair up with Rochester’s vegan vegetarian club in order to have some doctors give their credible opinions. MacArthur and Katherine Spector, a professor at Oswego State, have plans to build a community demonstration garden with vegetables between Shineman Center and Sheldon Hall.
MacArthur added that veganism will help people get back to a more sustainable lifestyle.