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CARES hosts vegan feast, panel in hopes of debunking myths, addressing concerns

Rachel Craft

Issue date: 11/19/10 Section: Focus
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CARES' Compassion Feast featured vegetables with hummus, vegan pizzas, falafel, General Tso's
CARES' Compassion Feast featured vegetables with hummus, vegan pizzas, falafel, General Tso's "Chicken," and other animal rights-conscious finger foods.
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Last Friday, Nov. 12, the Case Animal Rights and Ethics Society (CARES) held its biggest event of the semester, Compassion Feast and Ask-a-Vegan Panel. About 75 students and community members attended to share an entirely plant-based dinner, after which the panel was opened for discussion. 

Most guests seemed to agree that the dinner offered a delicious and well-balanced array of vegan fare. There was a variety of "rabbit food," as one guest put it, including fruit salad and vegetables with hummus. There were also more substantial options such as pizza, falafel, General Tso's popcorn "chicken," and Italian paninis, as well as cookies and almond milk for dessert.

Guests also had a chance to peruse a variety of literature, ranging from vegetarian cookbooks to pamphlets on the dairy industry to scientific journals on nutrition and disease. Notecards were provided for guests to write questions for the panel, which consisted of five devoted vegans: Jen Kaden, president of the Cleveland Animal Rights Alliance, Donna Liebenauer, a sign language professor at Cuyahoga Community College, two undergraduate Case Western Reserve University students, Taylor Wolfram and Jeff Bhasin, and recent CWRU graduate Michael Spence. 

Many of the questions stemmed from pure curiosity about the challenges of a vegan lifestyle. For instance, one guest wanted to know if chewing gum is vegan (apparently most of it is). Other questions concerned everyday dilemmas, such as finding vegan food while traveling or participating in work functions. The panelists stressed that they have not struggled to adapt. If you're going to a catered function, it's not difficult to call ahead, they said; if your coworker brings in a birthday cake, you can still be social without partaking. The panelists agreed that, at least in their experience, people are generally helpful and understanding.
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