Concordia Animal Rights Association advocates for a vegan lifestyle
For the average university student, finding the time to eat—let alone eat healthy—during a busy school day can be challenging. For a student eating a plant-based diet, it can be downright impossible.
Lucky for veggie-lovers, Concordia University is one of the best places in the city to study as a vegan, according to the Association Végétarienne de Montréal (AVM). In 2010, the Concordia Student Union (CSU) passed a motion requiring the university to ensure all activities on campus offer vegan options. According to the AVM, the initiative was brought forward by Concordia alumnus Lucas Solowey when he was a member of the Concordia Animal Rights Association (CARA).
According to Caitlin Yardley, CARA’s current volunteer coordinator, CARA members are still “huge promoters of the vegan lifestyle.” As the university’s official animal rights club, CARA’s mission is to work towards the protection of all animals through awareness, activism and encouraging compassion towards all living beings. “[Veganism] can be a very positive lifestyle change,” Yardley said.
While she has practiced a vegan lifestyle for six years, Yardley has been a vegetarian since she was eight years old.
“I originally became a vegetarian purely out of no longer enjoying meat,” Yardley said. “As I researched more about the harm caused to animals […] and the health implications animal products can have [on humans], I eventually became vegan and have never wanted to go back.”
When she began her studies at Concordia, Yardley became involved with CARA to bring awareness to animal rights issues and encourage students to get involved with the organization.
“We get to inform Concordia about injustices animals face, which [students] may be unaware of or ignore,” Yardley said.
As a partner of PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals), CARA definitely cannot be ignored. PETA provides CARA with free media and goods to distribute to students attending their events. The student group also offers a variety of volunteer opportunities, such as working with Guardian’s Best Animal Rescue Foundation, Chatopia (a Montreal-based non-profit cat rescue) and many other animal-oriented organizations.
CARA holds a variety of events each semester. Earlier this month, they hosted their annual Vegan Thanksgiving, where students could enjoy vegan treats while learning more about the food industry.
“The Vegan Thanksgiving was a great success this year,” Yardley said. “People really enjoyed the food we were giving out, which included veggie sausages, mini pumpkin pies, brownies and banana bread. Even those who were skeptical about the faux meats ended up liking them.” Yardley added that many people who were already vegan or vegetarian came to the booth to express gratitude for the event.
“[It] was great to see,” Yardley said. “When I first became vegan, I knew no one else who even expressed interest in taking part in the lifestyle. Within the past few years, there has definitely been a huge shift towards people becoming vegan.”
This shift has become increasingly apparent at Concordia. With the People’s Potato, the Green Beet, the Hive, le Frigo Vert and a number of other conveniently located veggie-friendly food stops, eating a plant-based diet is becoming increasingly accessible on Concordia’s campuses.
Concordia student Sara Shields-Rivard has been a vegetarian for over two years.
“At first, I found it difficult because many of my friends at the time were not vegetarian, so when we went out to eat, we could never agree on a place,” Shields-Rivard said. “However, since then, I’ve discovered the vegetarian gems of Concordia […] These places have made being a vegetarian in university much easier.”
Shields-Rivard said, with the readily available vegetarian options on campus, avoiding animal-products is often the easier, cheaper option. “If you go to the People’s Potato, all you have to bring is a Tupperware and some change for donation.”
As a Concordia student following a mostly plant-based diet, Hannah Gold-Apel said she does not have a problem maintaining her diet at school.
“I find it pretty easy to eat plant-based at school, especially with the free vegan lunches provided at both campuses,” Gold-Apel said. “All in all, I think Montreal is a pretty good city to be a broke, vegetarian student in.”
For students interested in animal rights or a plant-based diet, Yardley said there are a multitude of events to look forward to in the near future. This Wednesday, Oct. 18, CARA will be hosting a coffee break event in the JMSB lobby, where students can sample a variety of dairy-free milks. On Oct. 26, CARA is partnering with Anonymous for the Voiceless to hold an anti-fur event called “Who Are You Wearing?” that will take place in the JMSB lobby from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. For Halloween, CARA will be hosting a themed event where they will be giving out cruelty-free makeup.
More information can be found on CARA’s Facebook page or at their office on 2020 Mackay St., P-303.
Graphic by Zeze Le Lin