Courtesy Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine
Elizabeth Kucinich, left, said that when she saw there were staffers who wanted vegan options on Capitol Hill, she wanted to help.
“We’re not doing anything political,” Sarvana said. “We’re just trying to provide some information. We’re not asking what party you belong to; we don’t care. This is just about eating healthy.”
Monday’s kickoff lunch was conceptualized when Elizabeth Kucinich, the wife of former Rep. Dennis J. Kucinich, saw the Roll Call article and learned of the group’s mission.
The Kuciniches — both of whom live vegan lifestyles — were active in pushing for better vegan and vegetarian options in Hill cafeterias during the Ohio Democrat’s 16 years in the House. Elizabeth Kucinich said that when she saw there was a cohort of staffers with a similar goal, she wanted to help.
“[I hope the event] piques their interest and gives the Vegetarian Caucus more members,” Elizabeth Kucinich said before Monday’s lunch. “I’d hope that the caucus and I and others can work together to really show how vibrant this community is.”
Other luncheon attendees said they were excited to see how many fellow vegetarians and vegans are on the Hill.
Kenneth DeGraff, a policy adviser to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., has been a vegetarian for more than 15 years; he called the luncheon eye-opening.
“I’ve been on the Hill seven years now. I did not know there were that many vegetarians on the Hill,” DeGraff said. “It would be great to be able to use those numbers to demonstrate a need for better options in the cafeterias.”
As for what’s next, Rose said they hope to gather everyone’s ideas and figure out concrete goals for the organization.
“We’re excited to meet all of the new folks, tap into their passions and knowledge, and collectively chart the course ahead,” Rose said.
Terri Henderson, 6, center, whose mother is El Salvador, attends a rally with members of Congress at Union Station's Columbus Circle to announce the Restore Opportunity, Strengthen, and Improve the Economy (ROSIE) Act on July 29, 2014. The legislation provides incentives for government contractors to pay a living wage and other benefits that would help low-income workers.