News: Animal rights group seeks to widen circle of compassion

Students for True Animal Rights (STAR), an animal rights group at UVM, have been working to expand their influence on campus and to promote vegan and local foods since the group was formed in 2002.The group is currently gearing up for Earth Week, which they are kicking off on Monday, April 20 with a vegan potluck.”Every year for Earth Week we do a vegan potluck to get people to eat more ecologically friendly and to show that you can eat vegan and it actually tastes good and it’s not hard,” Dana Demetrio, STAR’s president, said.”This year STAR is doing a vegan ‘localvore’ potluck and they are working with an eco-rep to create a potluck that is both vegan and made from local foods,” Demetrio said.  They also have many other events in the works for Earth Week, including a movie night, tabling in front of the Bailey/Howe Library and an arts and craft and open microphone night, Demetrio said.  The group also used their vegan cooking skills to take the first prize over more than 11 other student chef pairs in the Vermont Food Summit’s Battle of the Campus Chefs on April 6.Their all-vegan hazelnut-filled wonton with fruit salad dish won them $250, along with bragging rights.”It was tasty and good and we did it all without any animal products,” Amanda DeSenna, STAR’s secretary, said.  In addition to their plans for Earth Week, STAR is also demonstrating on Shelburne Road on April 18 against puppy mills.The goal is to raise awareness about puppy mills because a lot of people don’t know about them, Demetrio said.”Puppy mills are huge breeding facilities for dogs. They don’t really care about their welfare,” Demetrio said. “That’s where your dogs who are bought at pet stores come from.””Puppies are treated like agricultural animals. You use them until you don’t need them anymore and then you get rid of them,” STAR’s treasurer Melanie Stewart said.  The members of STAR stressed that their members do not have to be vegetarians or vegans and that they accept anyone who wants to join, DeSenna said.Their main goal is to raise awareness and “incite feelings in people who don’t normally think about this stuff. It’s really moving to see that kind of change,” STAR’s vice president, WingYin Lo, said.  STAR has their meetings every Thursday in L/L 102 at 7 p.m.