Category Archives: Vegan

Celebrating Vegetarianism in Connecticut

By Danielle Gillette

I may go to school in Boston, but I live in Connecticut. I’ll be going home soon, so I started to check out what vegan/vegetarian things are going on in my home state. As it turns out, Connecticut is having its first annual Vegetarian and Healthy Living Festival or “VegFest” this weekend, April 28-29, at the Convention Center in Hartford.


Photo: Russ Glasson/ Flickr CC

The festival was founded by Ani Tirpan, owner of Wholesome Creations (a company that makes vegan, gluten-free, all-natural salad dressings) in North Haven, Connecticut. According to articles on the festival, Tirpan wants the event to focus not only on just the vegetarian/vegan diet, but the lifestyle in general.

There are speakers, cooking workshops, yoga classes, and film screenings scheduled over the two days, all intended to educate the general public on all things veggie.

So if you’re in the Hartford area this weekend and want to learn more about vegan/vegetarianism, the festival is free (with your donation of a vegetarian or vegan food item for local food banks) and runs from 10 to 6 on Saturday and Sunday. More details can be found here.

I wish I was going to be home so I could go check this out, but the semester’s not quite over. If, like me, you’re in Boston but you still want to see what a “VegFest” is all about, the Boston Vegetarian Society will be having their 17th annual Vegetarian Food Festival this October (the 27th and 28th, to be exact).

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Go Vegetarian and Go Green

By Danielle Gillette

Low Carbon Diet Day

An example of a Bon Appetit poster for Low Carbon Diet Day. Photo: Vince Maniago/Flickr CC

Today in the Emmanuel College cafeteria it was Bon Appetit’s fifth annual Low Carbon Diet day, where the food served is chosen for the purpose of reducing our carbon footprint. Food items like meat, cheese, and processed and packaged snacks can have a negative impact on the environment because of the greenhouse gases given off in producing and shipping them.

Bon Appetit outlines their five main principles for a low carbon diet on their blog, and they include not wasting food, buying local and in-season foods, and “mooooving away from beef and cheese” (their play on words, not mine).

But, you might ask, what does this have to do with vegan/vegetarian-ism? (Or maybe you aren’t the kind of person who asks blog posts rhetorical questions, I don’t really know.)

The answer is that adopting a vegan or vegetarian diet is one of the best ways to help lower the carbon footprint of the food industry. In one of PETA’s articles on the subject, “Fight Global Warming by Going Vegetarian,” they cite the following impressive and/or scary statistic, depending on your point of view:

 Producing one calorie from animal protein requires 11 times as much fossil fuel input—releasing 11 times as much carbon dioxide—as does producing a calorie from plant protein.

If “eleven times more” doesn’t mean a whole lot to you, consider the following (also from the same article): “a vegan is responsible for the release of approximately 1.5 fewer tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere each year than is a meat-eater.”

1.5 fewer tons of greenhouse gases per person can really start to add up if more people adopted vegan/vegetarian diets, even a few times a week. And as I learned in the Emmanuel cafeteria today, low carbon food does not mean lower quality.

With Earth Day coming up (April 22nd), it’s the perfect time to try going veg or at least going local when it comes to food.

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Strawberry Starbucks Drinks Aren’t Vegan Options Anymore

by Danielle Gillette

Starbucks-frequenting vegans may be upset to learn this week that the company’s Strawberries & Crème Frappucino and Strawberry Smoothies are no longer vegan-friendly menu options.

It used to be that if you ordered these drinks made with soy milk they were vegan, but as Daelyn Fortney revealed on This Dish is Veg, that is no longer the case. An anonymous Starbucks barista sent in photos of the new strawberry sauce ingredients list, which now includes “cochineal extract,” a dye made from dried female cochineal insects.

Starbucks Strawberries and Cream

Photo: Schtumple Flicker/CC

If your first response is “gross,” first of all, you aren’t alone- that was my reaction too.

But don’t worry, the dye is FDA approved and, according to the ABC news report on the subject, it’s used across the food industry:

Cochineal is considered safe by the FDA, and is widely used for coloration in jams, preserves, meat, marinades, alcoholic drinks, bakery products, cookies, cheddar cheese and many other food products.

The ingredient change was made by Starbucks earlier this year in an effort to cut out more artificial ingredients from its products. Fortney has started an online petition to get Starbucks to stop using the cochineal extract, and as of today (3/29) it has over 3,000 signatures.

Hopefully some kind of compromise can be reached; Fortney actually suggests several plant-based dye alternatives in her petition. Even in my limited experiences with veganism, I’ve had trouble finding things that were okay to eat. It must be hard on “full-time” vegans when ingredients change without warning to include animal products.

If there are any vegans or vegetarians reading this, how do you feel about Starbucks’ new ingredient?

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