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A New Beginning for Hill Vegans

Congressional staffers might soon have vegan dining options again.

Members of the Congressional Vegetarian Staff Association (Veggie Caucus) and the Farm Animal Welfare Coalition agreed Thursday that while there will be no more “Meatless Mondays,” there should be more vegan dining options in congressional cafeterias.

Steve Kopperud, executive vice president of Policy Directions Inc. and an FAWC lobbyist, agreed to write a letter to Restaurant Associates, the congressional dining operator, urging it to offer more food options for vegans and vegetarians, according to Veggie Caucus President Adam Sarvana.

Sarvana said the Thursday afternoon meeting with FAWC lasted only about 15 minutes, as members agreed via email beforehand about the need for more food options. Although Sarvana has not spoken directly with Restaurant Associates, he said staffers will have more food options soon.

“I can’t see a scenario where Restaurant Associates would ignore the [FAWC] letter,” Sarvana said. “Our agenda hasn’t changed; we want options and want to make sure people know it’s available.”

Sarvana said he did not know how many options there would be or where they would be offered.

The first and only “Meatless Monday” on June 3 was shut down after Kopperud and others in the FAWC wrote a letter denouncing it. Sarvana said his group’s goals are not political and his group did not even come up with the “Meatless Monday” title.

“We are still not pushing any political agenda,” Sarvana said. “We’re just here to provide information for people who want to know more.”

Kopperud could not be reached for comment.

Sarvana said his group would continue to offer the same information on nutrition and vegan options, including cooking demonstrations, guest speakers and community-sponsored agriculture.

The meeting followed the Veggie Caucus’ second “Healthy on the Hill” luncheon, co-sponsored by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine. More than 120 staffers gathered in the Rayburn House Office Building on Thursday for the event, which included a brief appearance from Rep. James P. Moran, D-Va., and a presentation from 9-year-old Noah Koch, a burgeoning vegan chef.

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