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Buffalo Vegan Drinks discuss issues surrounding the local vegan community

Donté Hemmans-Murdock, Reporter

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On April 14, Buffalo Vegan Drinks held a meetup event at the Perks Café on Main Street. They discussed the need for more vegan options in restaurants, the location of these restaurants, and the affordability of vegan dishes which are all major concerns.

Although it was an unusually low turnout for the Buffalo Vegan Drinks, attendees found it informative. If people did not leave the café with a full stomach, they surely left with minds full of useful information.

Buffalo Vegan Drinks held the event for people interested in promoting veganism, advocating for animal rights, socializing, or networking. The casualness of the event made people more comfortable in sharing their ideas. Attendees also got an opportunity to try new vegan dishes, desserts and drinks from the Perks Café.

“Buffalo Vegan Drinks brings a sense of community,” said Kate Warner, Buffalo Vegan Drinks event planner. “It is just somewhere you can go where you know there are going to be other vegans and hangout with like-minded people.”

Tessa Azzopardi, Vegan Drinks co-planner and real estate agent said, “Buffalo Vegan Drinks shows restaurants in the area that there is a demand for vegan food. I think that we definitely make a difference because there are places with more vegan options than ever before.”

Buffalo Vegan Drinks had a section in the cafe reserved for their guests and requested for the cafe to prepare vegan dishes for the event. The music was low. Sticker name tags were available for attendees.

During the event some attendees voiced their concern for the high price of vegan foods. Some felt the lack of affordability may deter potential vegans and the possibility of stores adding more vegan options since people are not buying it (no pun intended).

“This is a nice café but we need more places that are more affordable,” said Azzopardi. “When you think about a college student who does not have a lot of money they cannot come in a place like this and spend $20 on breakfast.”

Azzopardi’s statement led to the notion that the promotion of veganism is targeted primarily toward white middle-class not only in Buffalo, but nationwide. In Buffalo there are a couple of restaurants with vegan options on Grant Street and Elmwood Avenue, but the rest are located in areas designed to attract the middle class.

There has been a higher demand for more vegan options in Buffalo. However, those at the gathering believed that compared to other cities similar in size, Buffalo can do better. When it comes to looking for new restaurants, vegans find themselves on a merry-go-round. Rochester is a smaller city, yet it has restaurants that are completely vegan, where Buffalo does not.

The limited selection of vegan food in many restaurants was also a topic of discussion. Some claimed that restaurants make poor attempts when it comes to substituting regular meals for vegan meals.

“If a restaurant wants to add vegan options, veggie burgers are cool, but add something else,” exclaimed Warner. “I am pretty sure someone who has been vegan for 10 years does not want another veggie burger.”

The Buffalo vegan community who were at the event, all agreed that the veggie burger was the norm for vegan dishes. It troubled them when restaurants would serve the veggie burger without vegan cheese and suggest to the customers they can consume the burger without any cheese. It’s not just vegan cheese, but all types of food that can be substituted for its vegan counterpart, and aren’t.

According to the attendees, the Perks Café was an acceptable spot to hold the event. This location like the others had a variety of vegan food options but not exclusively vegan. A key component of these event’s is for the people to try the new foods and provide feedback.

“We have a lot of diary substitutes,” said Taylor Boyer, Perks Café barista. “We have vegan ice cream, different vegan milks, tofu, house-made vegan cheeses and sausage. Basically, anything that is not a vegan option, we try to make it vegan.”

The Perks Café menu has its own vegan section with several options. They had the option to choose from a mere vegan salad to a curried chickpea vegan wrap. The vegan cupcake with strawberry frosting and vegan milkshakes were the desserts that caught everybody’s attention.

 

All in all, the event covered some concerning topics that the vegan community in Buffalo deals with daily. Members of Buffalo Vegan Drinks hoped that this discussion will turn into actions and assist in the progression of the vegan life style.

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Buffalo Vegan Drinks discuss issues surrounding the local vegan community