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U of O vegetarian and vegan club works for animal rights in Ottawa

Photo by Celina Feng

The Vegetarian and Vegan Club at the University of Ottawa is more than just a group of health nuts getting together and eating greens. Members of the recently founded club are actively recruiting new members who want to learn about vegetarianism and veganism, and those who want to help raise awareness and advocate for animal rights.

Discussions about food and personal interests coincide with collaborative efforts with different organizations in the city. One of these collaborations is with the Ottawa Animal Defense League to bring attention to the use of real fur for the trim of Canada Goose coats.

Brittany Neron, vp internal of the club and women’s studies masters student, co-founded the club because there weren’t any existing campus groups bringing vegans and vegetarians together for animal rights.

“A lot of people start (vegetarianism) solely as an animal rights thing, but then it stems out to include environmental reasons and health reasons,” said Neron. “I know for me that it is a combination of all of those things.”

Neron said she started out as a vegetarian, and has been a vegan for nine years. She has since lost a taste for even vegan-friendly meat alternatives, but said “they are definitely great for those making the transition.”

Whether students have been eating vegetarian for years or are just starting out, the U of O campus can present some challenges for vegan and vegetarian students.

“The cafeteria is definitely lacking in vegetarian and vegan options,” Neron said.

Between classes she often packs her own meals. For students who are looking to purchase food on campus, she recommends going to Pivik to grab a veggie wrap, Café Alt for vegetarian baked goods, and Café Nostalgica for a lot of vegetarian and vegan options. Off-campus, there is Govinda’s Vegetarian Buffet on Somerset Street East that offers a $5 vegan dinner buffet.

The club is currently in talks with the National Capital Vegetarian Association  to collaborate on future events. Neron said members are hoping to organize a benefit to raise money for a farm sanctuary, to provide a space for rescued animals that were involved in agriculture in the past.

The club has a clear focus in its intentions to promote animal welfare and they are hoping to continue to build relationships with organizations around Ottawa to develop their presence both on campus and in the city.

The club currently meets several times a month at Café Alt. Meeting times are flexible and are posted on the UOttawa Vegetarians and Vegan Club group on Facebook.