By Razz (Shayla) Beley
A new café is set to open up near Clark University in Worcester, MA, date still to be decided. This café, Chickpea, will advocate for animal rights with 100 percent of its revenue being donated to VegWorcester, a non-profit community group that advocates vegan living in Central MA. Chickpea will be a vegan sandwich and ice cream shop with foods such as, soups, salads, of course sandwiches and ice cream being served. If they raise enough money, they plan to have mac ‘n cheese, stuffed shells, pizza and other baked goods available as well. Jac Kohn and Katie Dufault, two college-aged members of a Worcester collective house, Collective a GoGo, have one main vision in creating this space, a vision to create a restaurant where people can not only come together to share food but support animal rights as well.
“Animal advocacy just kind of clicked to me one day, I’d always been kind of aware about the mistreatment of animals but then it kind of reached a point where I couldn’t justify my eating meat anymore so I became a vegetarian,” says Dufault. “For a few years I was just vegetarian and started becoming more interested in learning about why this was the best idea for me if not just to be able to have solid facts to tell people when constantly being asked why I do it. After a while it happened all over and I could no longer justify eating any animal product or participating in anything that came from the mistreatment of animals. I’ve never been one to tell someone what to do or try to push my ideals on others; although I think veganism is best both for living cruelty free and also for the environment. I’d rather show people and be an example of a happy and successful vegan diet. I’d rather cook a good vegan meal to show someone they don’t have to give up exciting and delicious meals to also help protect animals.”
They hope to provide a restaurant where people can try new and healthy foods. There will be vegetarian food options for all who wish. They plan to cater to students at Clark University, residents of the neighborhood and the entire city. On top of using the restaurant to feed the eager mouths of customers, the space will also be used to hold workshops and lectures. Although nothing specific has been planned yet, they hope to include anything ranging from cooking demonstrations and speakers to having meetings for open discussion.
“Worcester is a burgeoning city,” says a local of the community, Thom Friend. “I’ve met people who have moved here from New York, Chicago, and Providence. One thing we all seem to feel is that there is a growing energy in Worcester; an energy to organize and leave a positive mark on this city. The collective housing scene, the music scene, and now (with Chickpea) the food scene are all rooted in organizing and making a difference here. Local is trending, “green” is trending, animal rights are trending; but the people at Chickpea aren’t in it for hipster points or business slogans—they just care about food and animals.”
The products of Adamah Food, a value-based culinary enterprise centered on sharing the knowledge and benefits of a sustainable food system, will be included in their recipes. Chickpea will also be sourcing their vegetables from local farms with the help of the Regional Environmental Council and YouthGrow, an urban, organic, agriculture-focused youth development and employment program for low-income teens.
So far, via IndieGoGo, a website that allows people to activate their community by raising money for their cause, Chickpea has raised a little over $8,000. They’re thinking that the total cost will range between $20,000 and $40,000. As they’ve stated on their IndieGoGo page, despite whether that goal is met 100 percent or not, they have already signed a lease and will definitely be opening. The restaurant will be located on 482 Park Ave, Worcester, MA. If you’d like to support and help their cause, you can like them on Facebook. If you wish to further support their cause, you can view their upcoming fundraiser events on their Facebook page as well. The next one will be held Sunday, September 21 from 11am – 6pm at their location in Worcester.