The formation of the Veggie Caucus on Capitol Hill came about organically.
A couple of friends got together including Adam Sarvana, a staffer for Rep. Raul Grijalva, D-Ariz., and Madeline Rose, who works for Rep. Mike Honda, D-Calif., to create a Congressional Vegetarian Staff Association, or "Veggie Caucus" for short, mainly focused on getting improved vegetarian options at Hill cafeterias. "We're not asking what party you belong to. We don't care," said co-president Sarvana. "We're not doing anything political, we're just trying to provide some information for making tasty food available to anyone who wants it."
The Physicians Committee on Responsible Medicine's director of government affairs, Elizabeth Kucinich, soon caught wind. "I read a newspaper article in Roll Call a few weeks ago and just reached out to the staffers that were mentioned in the article," the wife of former Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, told Yeas & Nays. "[I] said, 'what can I do to help you to make this big?' "
And big -- a big crowd rather -- is what they pulled off Monday as the Veggie Caucus marked Earth Day with vegan bagged lunches, vegan cupcakes from Sticky Fingers and a motivational talk from celebrity health guru John Pierre. Staffers got a taste of the vegan diet with lunch from Elizabeth's Gone Raw that included zesty kale chips, a served-cold cucumber chamomile soup and stuffed grape leaves that contained a mix of nuts, miso and spices, instead of traditional lamb.
Kucinich brought along her husband, who is also a prominent Washington Vegan. "I am here as a supportive husband and, as members of the caucus said, this isn't a political thing. I'm not here as a Democrat, I'm here as a Vegan," said the former congressman. "And also as someone who, in my 20s, I had some serious intestinal issues. I don't want to get into -- you're eating," the Ohio Democrat grinned. Luckily, a change of diet cleared things up for Kucinich. "Bon appetit," he said, handing the microphone back to his wife.