July 18, 2019 | 74° F

'Veg' or Not, Hug-a-Vegan Day Welcomes All

Photo by Facebook |

Let’s face it, vegans get a bad rap — some people find their limited palate annoying and obnoxious or worry that their vegan friend will be judging them as they cut into a juicy steak.

The Rutgers Veg Society is hoping to change that stigma this Wednesday with "Hug-a-Vegan Day" at The Yard @ College Avenue.

“The mission of this event is to interact with fellow Rutgers students to promote a sense of unity between those of different dietary lifestyles,” said Nikki Iannantuano, the public relations chairwoman for the Rutgers Veg Society. “Vegans and vegetarians often have a bad reputation as people think we shove our beliefs down other people’s throats, so we wanted to create a very inclusive event that anyone can participate in.”

While there will be no one dressed in a cuddly bunny costume like at last year’s "Hug-a-Vegan Day," student representatives from the club will be at The Yard to inform non-vegans and non-vegetarians about veganism.

More importantly, members of the club will gladly answer any questions about adopting a more plant-based diet and lifestyle for those who are not interested in totally making the switch, but still concerned with their health and reducing environmental damage that animal agriculture and production may cause.

Welcoming non-vegans and non-vegetarians into their community is not a new practice in the Rutgers Veg Society, with some of their active members being non-vegs themselves.

With temptations of Brower Commons "Bite Night" and a never-ending supply of fat sandwiches, eating healthy can seem difficult to many Rutgers students, something that the Veg Society always takes into account when recruiting non-vegs.

“Non-vegans and non-vegetarians should still feel welcome to stop by as it can spark an interest in a plant-based diet,” Iannantuano said. “We love to educate others on the benefits of a plant-based lifestyle, so we would love to interact with people with varying diets and lifestyles.”

A self-described close-knit community, the Rutgers Veg Society also creates a space for vegan and vegetarian students to discuss important issues or challenges they may face with their diets and lifestyles, Iannantuano said. Vegan, vegetarian or neither, the Veg Society gives students an opportunity to rant, rave or vent about any problems they face based on their diets, as well as a space to build awareness on environmental issues, animal welfare and other current events that affect animals, the environment and society as a whole.

From its establishment in 1973, the Rutgers Veg Society has been very active on campus for some time now, often partnering up with other organizations on campus to work on events that serve all Rutgers students.

The club recently held an exotic fruit tasting event at the Rutgers Hillel on Sept. 25, and they are currently collaborating with the Philosophy Club for a food ethics event.

By collaborating with other organizations, the Veg Society makes as much effort as they can to relate to students with different dietary backgrounds and lifestyles.

If you’re not able to make it to this year’s "Hug-a-Vegan Day," but are still interesting in seeing what the Rutgers Veg Society has to offer, it’s not too late to get involved.

The Veg Society meets every other Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. at the College Avenue Student Center in Room 411C, and also hold “Veg Sessions” every other Friday.

The club holds documentary screenings and potlucks, takes group trips to animal sanctuaries and often are joined by guest speakers for discussions.

For more information on their upcoming events, including a trip to the Skylands Animal Sanctuary and Rescue on Oct. 1, check out the Rutgers Veg Society’s Facebook page that’s open to the public.

Whether you’re vegan or vegetarian yourself looking for a likeminded community or simply interested in making a few improvements to your diet,

"Hug-a-Vegan Day" should be a great place to start. And yes, you can still get a hug even after cutting into that juicy steak.

Clarissa Gordon

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