VU Voices for Animals (VUVFA) is a current active student organization which works towards animal rights and education on vegan and vegetarian living.
“Voices for Animals is our animal rights club here on campus,” said VUVFA President Madison Novack. “We just want to promote animal rights, and we talk a lot about veganism and vegetarianism.”
Novack, a sophomore, emphasizes that you do not need to be vegan or vegetarian to join, though past, pre-pandemic activities did often involve learning about ways to be vegan or vegetarian. For instance, in previous years, VUVFA held a vegan thanksgiving potluck.
“We do like restaurants in Valpo that are vegan. And I mean, in the past, without COVID, we were able to do taste tests, and we did a lot of ice cream and movie nights, just to educate everyone on animal rights, and then how to be vegan and vegetarian in Valpo,” Novack said.
While COVID-19 has made such events difficult, the group was still able to safely have Oreos and vegan pumpkin spice lattes this year.
VUVFA holds bi-weekly meetings which are currently held over Zoom, and are largely educational and discussion-based.
“We normally start off with like, a little bit of like education. Our last one was how to be vegan and vegetarian in Valpo, and we listed off the restaurants, and then we talked about it,” Novack said. “Another one was why you should go vegan and vegetarian because of how good it is for the climate.”
According to Novack, moving meetings online to Zoom has actually had some significant benefits to the group, as it makes them easier to attend for busy students.
“We are very small. There's like a consistent, I want to say six or eight people that actually come to our meetings. But we still decided just to keep it on zoom, because that's just easier for everyone,” Novack said.
Novack first became interested in VUVFA her freshman year at the student activities fair. Novack was not a vegetarian at the time, but was further introduced to the concept by a friend who encouraged her to attend meetings.
“My friend at the time, she was a vegetarian. I wasn't a vegetarian until after I joined the club, but after I learned about all the benefits and stuff [and] my friend was like, hey, you should come to these meetings with me...And I was like, okay, yeah,” Novack said. “And so we just started going to the meetings.”
Although Novack hopes to grow the club as president, she was initially drawn to the many benefits of having a small club, specifically the ability to have in-depth discussions.
“I just like the small club atmosphere, because I feel like I really got to actually know all the members that were in the club,” Novack said. “And I feel that it made our meetings more beneficial, because we were actually able to have deeper discussions.”
In addition to growing the club, Novack wants to expand their purpose to encompass the theme of animal rights more broadly. (She does note that this would not mean they would no longer discuss vegan or vegetarianism.)
“I feel like a lot of people think that it's just like a vegan-vegetarian club, because I think that's like the stereotype it used to have on campus,” Novack said. “And so something else that I'm really trying to not change, but I just want to make it more of an animal rights club...We're called VU Voices for Animals. So I really want to try to get it to be more centered around animals.”