New Vegan Club provides healthy alternatives


At their first meeting, Nathalie Lopez, Kevin Alejo, and Yovanny Virgen-Gomez prepare their mixture of potatoes and soyrizo. They first let the potato cook thoroughly, before adding the soyrizo into the mix. “It tastes exactly like a regular breakfast burrito and I was amazed to know that something that good was actually healthy,” Lopez said.

In the effort to eat better, healthier or more ethically, people are eating less meat and looking at more vegetarian or vegan options. 

In an effort to help students learn about veganism, AVID teacher Diana Huerta founded the Vegan Club. 

She is vegan and wanted to try spreading light into the world of veganism. During the shutdown, she decided to become vegan due to her older son’s health issues requiring him to lay off dairy. After examining the foods he reacted to, they decided to cut out all animal products. 

Huerta saw significant changes in her son’s health and decided to turn vegan as a way to support him and to cook for him. “..I decided to stay with it because it wasn’t as hard as I thought it was,” Huerta said. 

The idea of the Vegan Club didn’t randomly come up, but it wasn’t just Huerta’s idea either. It was actually requested by her students – Kevin Alejo, Melissa Distanica, Mia Calderon, Dayana Ramirez and Yarely Mendoza – and the club was  only possible because they agreed to be the officers. “She’d always bring these weird lunches and we became curious to what they were,” Alejo said.

They’d brought up the idea of starting the club last year and she decided it wasn’t a bad idea and started the club this year. “I actually had a lot of students asking about it, I am vegan and they see me eating foods that they were interested in and then asked if I would teach them how to make things,” Huerta said.

Alejo, one of the students who convinced Huerta to create the Vegan Club, wanted to learn and experience new styles of eating in the Vegan Club. Being a senior, he’s experienced first hand, the little to no options in the school provided lunches and wanted to learn about alternative options for the future. “Usually when students go to college they usually eat Instant Ramen everyday which is unhealthy, I want to be able to cook more than that,” Alejo said.

Huerta’s goals of the club align with Alejo’s goals of exposing students to new and different options, but to also break down their stereotypes of vegan food and show her students that their favorite dishes can be made with alternatives that aren’t the fats of meat. “I wanted my students to realize that meat only tastes good because we season it with spices,” she said.  “The best part of the club for me is seeing the kids trying something new and having their expectations exceeded.” 

Vegan options having little to no differences in taste from actual meat should encourage members to follow the vegan diet outside of the club. Yet, the President, Alejo says that out of the 40 members of the club, only Huerta and Melissa Distancia keep up with the vegan diet outside of the club. “I mostly just stay with the diet because I work out and try to eat as healthy as possible and maintain enough protein in my meals,” Distancia said.

But trying to maintain a vegan diet isn’t as easy as it seems. Distancia’s main trouble with keeping up with the diet is the cost of the alternatives. However, she reveals ingredients for breakfast meals, that are cheaper and easier to make, help her keep up with the vegan diet. “..Although most [alternatives] are expensive, there are cheaper meals such as breakfast foods that are easy to make at home,” she said. 

Currently, the Vegan Club has meetings once a month, on the 2nd Thursday, after school in room 715. But after January, the meetings will be held every other week because she’ll have more time. “Right now, we only have meetings once a month because I’m super busy, but next semester I won’t be as busy and will have more time for the club,” said Huerta.

To join the club students can scan a QR code located next to Huerta’s room, 1001. The paper is at the bottom right corner of a bulletin board. The QR code sends you to a Google Form where you sign up for the club. After signing up, students  get an email from Huerta and get to vote on what the next recipe will be. “It’s really easy to scan the QR and then fill the form instead of having to ask for the link,” Distancia said.

Corrections: Dayana Ramirez was identified as Diana and Mia Calderon was identified as Carderon. We have updated the story and apologize for the errors.