Veg Caucus Growing Strong

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Here some more good news from Congress that all veg-friendlies can cheer about. Recently we reported on the first meeting of the first ever vegetarian caucus on Capitol Hill, with the hope that the seeds planted would take root and grow. We’re happy to now report that the vegetarian caucus has caught on and appears to be growing quite nicely. Up until now all members and attendees had been congressional staffers. Their latest meeting grew to 120 attendees, and perhaps most significantly, was attended by Congressman Rep. James P. Moran of Virginia. The significance of this can hardly be overstated.

Billed as a “Healthy on the Hill” lunch, their latest meeting included a cooking demonstration featuring 10 different recipes, the unveiling of the Capitol Hill area veg-dining guide, and raffles for books by Neal Barnard M.D. and the Forks Over Knives DVD. Each attendee also received three vegan foods for lunch: a smoothie sample, an “eggplant bacon BLT,” and a sweet corn, tomato and basil salad.

Not so successful however was their attempt to get a Meatless Mondays started at some of the staff cafeterias and eateries. The first and only “Meatless Monday” on June 3 was shut down after the meat industry got wind of it, and the restaurants quickly gave in to their pressure. Undaunted, the caucus plans to try again in the future.

The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) co-hosted the lunch, cooking demos and co-produced the dining guide. The growth of the veg caucus shows just how effective non-profit public partnerships can be. Whether it’s the nonprofit Johns Hopkins’ Bloomberg School of Public Health, and their work with California public schools in their vegetarian meal options and all vegetarian Meatless Mondays, or the PCRM’s cohosting Healthy on the Hill lunches and dining guides, nonprofits can provide the critical ingredient for a more veg-friendly future.