Veggie tales

Michelle Rivers and Jeannie Trizzino

Photo by Whitney Garcia

Michelle Rivers and Jeannie Trizzino are longtime vegans, and last year they got together to form a community of like-minded locals, the Chico Vegan Cooperative. Since opening last September, the co-op specializing in animal-free products has grown to 20 members. Rivers, who is also the founder of the Pinwheel Community Acupuncture Project, and Trizzino, a longtime vegan advocate and educator, started the group because they wanted to make it easier for the Chico community to go vegan. They found a place of operation that has room for their food and a small lending library comprising all sorts of books on veganism. The CN&R sat down with Rivers and Trizzino (pictured, left and right, respectively) to learn about the co-op and the search to find a commercial kitchen space to better serve its members. Find more information about the Chico Vegan Co-op online at

Why did you decide to go vegan?

Trizzino: I’ve been vegan for 27 years, and I do it because I hate the way we treat animals. I would never want my cat or dog to be treated the way we treat the animals that feed us.

Rivers: And same here. I realized nine years ago that I could help make an impact, however small, on the world, and this is my way. I, and with the co-op, strive to reduce harm and suffering by going back to a plant-based diet.

How does the co-op work?

Rivers: It runs on a two-week cycle, and completely by volunteers. Members pay an annual fee of $25, and then they have access to the health-food software. Every two weeks, the orders begin anew, and the members go online and start picking what they want. They chat with each other about new things to try or if someone wants to split [an order], and even making sure everything they order is vegan. Then, when the [food] gets delivered, volunteers split the food based off the orders, write up individual invoices, and then members pick up their food.

What is the vegan community like in Chico?

Trizzino: I’ve been a big advocate for veganism for 27 years. I run the Chico Vegan Meetups and potlucks, and I collaborate on a vegan-themed radio show. There is a community here; it’s just small. We hope to continue to draw people in with a vast amount of knowledge and how-to, and to really encourage people to think about the impact they are making by eating animal products.

How do you want the co-op to grow?

Rivers: We need a commercial kitchen space so we can deal with raw foods and offer cooking classes. Our space now is good for what we do, but if we got a commercial kitchen space, we would be able to do so much more. I want to see the co-op reach out to those who are looking for a way to be more environmentally conscious with what they put in their body.