Vegetarianism and veganism are hot topics at the moment, and with recent reports suggesting that some students are spending in excess of £25 a week on their food shop, embracing non-meat (and therefore cheaper) eating habits could be a great step if you’re feeling the squeeze. I posed some questions to Veg Soc president Ellie Carmichael to discover the benefits of going green at uni.
Hi VegSoc! Could you tell us a bit about your society, and what the committee get up to?
Our society is designed to help support people who want to try being vegetarian or vegan by sharing recipes, tips and knowledge of veggie-friendly food or restaurants. It is also about meeting like minded people who have the same ethical concerns. The committee get together on a regular basis to try and arrange events that we know our members would like. We also talk with local businesses to try and encourage them to include more vegetarian and vegan options on their menus. Veg Soc also have very strong ties with local charities who help the homeless – we provide healthy and nutritious food, buy food for their dogs and source warm clothes, tents and blankets for those who are unfortunately sleeping rough. We believe that it is important to be kind to everyone in our community and winter nights in Leeds get extremely cold very quickly!
Why should our readers look into joining you?
Veg Soc is a supportive society with fantastic members and we aim to make sure all of our events are fun and enjoyable for everyone! We have loads of free food at our events, go for a lot of meals out, have cooking demonstrations with delicious food and go on city adventures together. I have met some of my closest friends through Veg Soc and really enjoy being part of such a strong community!
“We have a lot of people join our events who are curious about our society or want to give being veggie a go! It’s a great way to learn some new healthy and affordable recipes.”
Have you been introduced to new ways of cooking, or even new foods, thanks to Veg Soc?
In the past few years we have held a veggie sushi workshop, a pizza workshop, and made chocolate, cheese and nut-milk from scratch! Our events certainly have taught me a lot about how to make certain foods. And during our pot-luck meals, members often bring along food that I have never heard of or tried before, such as pulled jackfruit, courgette scones and vegetarian haggis … I think it is fair to say that at each event I learn something new or about a different way of cooking and using ingredients!
Who can join? Are meat eaters welcome?
We try to be a very welcoming society and everyone is welcome to join including students, staff and those who dont go to Leeds Uni. We have a lot of people join our events who are curious about our society or want to give being veggie a go! It’s a great way to learn some new healthy and affordable recipes.
Can you tell us a bit about what events, socials etc you have planned?
On the 1st of October Veg Soc will be going to Little Tokyo – a restuarant with a great vegetarian and vegan menu – to celebrate World Vegetarian Day, and then will be going for drinks afterwards at a nearby bar. Everyone is welcome, whether they are veggie or not! On the 8th of Octoer we have our GIAG Autumn BBQ, where we will be trying loads of vegan burgers, sausages and kebabs. Other events that are coming up include a workshop at LUSH making a cruelty free bath bomb, a movie night at the union, cooking demonstrations by local vegan chefs, a Halloween pot-luck dinner, handing out warm clothes to the homeless community, and plenty more.
“There are so many important reasons why people don’t consume animal products but whatever the reason they all have a positive effect on the environment and on animal welfare!”
I think it would be fair to say that there has been a surge in people looking toward a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle in the past couple of years. Whats your take on this? Why do you think such a change is happening?
I think with the increase in social media people are seeing the positive effects of a veggie lifestyle on the environment, their health and for animal welfare. There are now so many incredible vegan products available in shops from chocolate, Sunday roasts and haggis to Ben and Jerry’s vegan ice cream. It is so easy to eat vegan now and every year I think people are more curious about it. I know a lot of people who have tried to go vegan for a month, simply to challenge themselves, and now they have been vegan for years!
What would you say to the people that think its a fad or a trend to be veggie or vegan?
The majority of veggies are veggie or vegan for numerous reasons, including environmental concerns, health implications, religious beliefs, cost and concerns about animal welfare. But, like with anything, there are people who follow a veggie or vegan lifestyle because its the latest trend. There are so many important reasons why people don’t consume animal products but whatever the reason they all have a positive effect on the environment and on animal welfare!
Lastly, what is your favourite vegetarian or vegan dish?
I LOVE gnocchi! Half way between pasta and potato, it really is the best of both worlds and super quick to make. Any meal with gnocchi is going to be amazing but my favourite is with fried courgette, mushrooms and sun-dried tomatoes, with a pesto sauce. Delicious!