“Veganuary” in the ‘Burg: how to participate


Brittany Cinderella

Customers enjoying the southern vibe Julep provides.

MJ Rivera, Staff Reporter

“Veganuary” is a movement that was created to inspire people to try a vegan diet during the month of January according to the official website veganuary.com. 

Veganism is a lifestyle that omits consumption or use of any animal product. People choose to be vegan because of the health, environmental, and financial benefits. 

The Veganuary website offers vegan breakfast, lunch and dinner recipes from around the globe, including Mexican, French, Turkish and Chinese food, and even holiday recipes for Christmas and Easter. The site also features an ‘Eating Guides’ page including vegan menu options from fast food restaurants, many of which have locations in Ellensburg. 

Local vegan options

Vegan items have found their way to many local eateries doing their part to support vegan diets. Julep, a new locally-sourced spot on Main Street, offers vegan chili, fried dill pickles, fried tofu bites, cauliflower bites, an autumnal vegan salad, a tofu po’boy sandwich, a fried cauliflower sandwich and other vegan sides. 

Another restaurant that caters to vegans is The Early Bird Café, located on Main Street. The café offers dishes such as the ‘vegan bowl’, which includes house potatoes, scrambled tofu, a roasted veggie medley, sweet potatoes, avocado, salsa and green onions. 

Jeannie Bayles, the owner, began her culinary career on the west side of Washington where she managed restaurants for several years. When she found the location in Ellensburg, she said she knew she wanted to turn it into a café that served great food that everyone can enjoy. 

When asked why she felt it was important to include vegan options she said,“in the Pacific Northwest, people are much healthier and food-conscious. We like to be able to offer something that can appeal to everybody. We have a wide demographic of customers, and so we just want to make sure that we are including all eating types.” 

Bayles also mentioned that they can substitute the meat in any dish with roasted veggies because they make everything from scratch and can modify 99% of menu items to be vegan/vegetarian.

Other popular dishes amongst vegans and non-vegans at the café include avocado toast made vegan and the cinnamon brown rice porridge made with coconut milk, maple syrup, cinnamon and fresh berries.

Ellensburg offers yet another restaurant that supports vegan diets: The Lunchbox Café, located across the Safeway parking lot on Ruby Street. Owner Margo Cordner began her Ellensburg career at the Yellow Church Cafe for 10 years as a kitchen manager.


According to Cordner, she wanted to create a space where anyone could feel comfortable when dining. Their menu features a vegan deli sandwich with hummus, cucumber and tomato, as well as an organic curry tofu salad, a romaine wrap, the “cranberry craze” salad, the simple spinach salad and four sides made entirely vegan and gluten-free. 

“I want everyone to have something to eat,” Cordner said. “There doesn’t seem to be a whole lot of that around, so we want to make sure you’re taken care of.”

Some of Cordner’s favorite items on her menu are the sandwiches. Including the curry tofu sandwich and the pickled beet reuben. She said the soups are also excellent, especially at this time of year, and a sweet vegan treat they offer is their raspberry oat bar.

On-campus vegan options

Vegans on the CWU campus can also get their fill of diet-friendly foods. CWU Dining Services Executive Chef Joe Ritchie said, ”There have been student requests in the past [for vegan options]. I came here four years ago and that was one of the first things that was mentioned …  It’s a work in progress, but it’s something that we’ve made a lot of progress on in the last couple of years.” 

Ritchie said not many students had mentioned it to him before, but that it is a movement that is gaining traction. In his experience, “vegan students tend to be very proactive. They’re very health-conscious, and they know what they want.” 

According to Ritchie, his favorite vegan option on campus is the ‘spicy miso ramen’ found in Holmes Dining Room, served during lunch 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. Monday through Friday. 

“It’s been fun because I’ve cooked every possible vegan dish I could think of in the last couple of years,” Ritchie said. “Some of those items are gradually going to start making it on the menus downstairs.” 

Perspectives of CWU community

Emily Dart, CWU student and vegan said, “I didn’t really want to eat animals and science documentaries made me learn more about how we’re not really meant to process red meat in our bodies.” 

According to Dart, one of the challenges she faces in making healthy, non-meat choices in Ellensburg is that a lot of restaurants don’t have many vegan options.  

She said that Beyond’s plant-based burgers are a great way to satiate meat cravings during the beginning of trying a vegan diet. After being vegan and vegetarian, Dart said eating meat and dairy now would make her feel sick. 

“It’s fun to see what you can create with just vegetables, and it’s easier now than it was for people in the past,” Dart said. “There’s a lot of changing in that way, but there’s still a lot of social challenges. If you’re out with friends at a restaurant, you need to be able to stand your ground. There’s this social talent of being comfortable explaining why you’re eating a diet that you know people might not understand.”

Former CWU student and vegan Aeryn Kauffman said she used to make fun of her vegan friends before she learned how the lifestyle can benefit her health and the world.

After watching the documentary “What The Health,” Kauffman went on her own research journey to discover the truths and myths of American agriculture and veganism. 

“There’s a lot that people don’t know,” Kauffman said. “Everybody might think it’s lame to care about animals or think that vegans are so extreme … there’s been a push in recent decades to move the focus away from animals suffering, but I want people to know that it’s okay to care.”

According to Kauffman, anyone wanting to try a vegan diet would benefit from dedicating three months of time to adjust.

Kauffman said restaurants she knows of with vegan-friendly options include Taco Del Mar, the Fresh Bar on campus, Ellensburg Pasta Company and any establishment that provides dairy alternatives for their milk beverages.