Elizabeth Kucinich may be the best thing that ever happened to D.C.’s vegetarian movement.
“Happy Earth Day, everybody!” she said to Monday’s standing-room-only audience in the Capitol Visitors Center, embracing the roomful of young Hill staffers with a collective hug of approval. “And Happy Veg Week — although every week is veg week for us.”
Unrelated news flash: The gorgeous former congressional spouse, now a lobbyist for the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, breezed in with a new, cropped haircut instead of flowing red tresses. “It’s all off,” she told us. “I’m liberated!”
The gathering was the first- ever event for the Congressional Vegetarian Staff Association — aka the Veggie Caucus. Never heard of it? Neither had we, although we just assumed it dated back to the granola days of the 1970’s.
Not even close: It was founded a mere six weeks ago, when half a dozen staffers decided they wanted more vegetarian options in the Hill cafeterias. “Anything other than beans they seemed to have a hard time with,” co-president Adam Sarvana, who works for Arizona Democrat Rep. Raul Grijalva. Roll Call wrote a small article, and a movement was born.
With Kucinich as emcee, the bi-partisan group threw a vegan bag lunch for Earth Day. “It’s a public education effort,” Sarvana told us. “But we know some people are coming for the free food.” Indeed, bags with kale chips, cucumber gazpacho, stuffed grape leaves and “reverse osmosis” water were snapped up almost as fast as the vegan cupcakes.
As the audience sampled their fare, Kucinich introduced her vegan husband, Dennis Kucinich; Hill staffer Erin Dominguez, who went vegan after her parents both died of colon cancer; and John Pierre, personal trainer to Ellen DeGeneres and other stars, who preached a 30-minute sermon on the redemptive powers of a plant-based diet. “You can take the good path or the dark path,” he warned, linking sugary sodas to school shootings and then saying more about chewing and bowel movements than anyone needs to hear during lunch.
Too earthy even for Earth Day. Thank god for the cupcakes.
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