Supporting Portland's Vegan, Vegetarian, and Veg-curious Community

Northwest VEG is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization based in Portland, OR that works to educate and encourage people to make vegan choices for a healthy, sustainable, and compassionate world.
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Navigating Though the Holidays as a Vegan

November 20, 2014

Written by Sarah Taylor, Author of Vegan in 30 Days and Vegetarian to Vegan,

The holidays are stressful for most people, but there are added stresses for vegans: How do you ask your family to cook a vegan meal for you? If they are coming to your house, do you make two meals, or request that they eat vegan? What do you do when someone gets confrontational about your diet at the holiday table? No worries – here are all your answers!

The first thing you must decide is whether you will be eating vegan for the holiday meal. If you are vegan for health reasons only, you may choose to splurge at this time of year, but I don’t recommend it – one splurge usually leads to many more, which leads you straight back to your old bad habits. If you are vegan for ethical reasons, then there is no reason to treat this day differently than any other day – animals suffered and were killed for these holidays just like any other day, so you obviously won’t be eating turkey or ham.

The next set of decisions involves where you’ll be eating. Is a family member hosting dinner, or will it be held at your house? If you’ll be going to someone else’s house for dinner, it’s pertinent to call the host/ess. I always suggest offering to bring your own food; not only does this make life easier on your host/ess, it also ensures you that you will get a fully vegan meal. Many people, with great intentions, end up using dairy, eggs or honey inadvertently when trying to cook vegan. If you can bring a dish that is a meal all-in-one (such as a casserole,) this allows you to eat heartily and also offer some to others, so they will be able to see just how delicious vegan food can be.

If your host/ess insists on cooking for you, then make sure that he or she knows exactly what a vegan diet is. Gracefully stress that vegan is different from vegetarian, and explain those differences. Offer up vegan websites with holiday recipes, or offer up recipes yourself. Again, this makes life so much easier for your host/ess.

If you are hosting the holiday dinner, then you have another big decision to make: Will you be making one vegan and one non-vegan meal, or will you require that everyone eat vegan? At my house, I now cook the holiday meal every year, and everyone eats vegan. The first year I hosted, I made absolutely sure that my recipes were delicious – I didn't try anything for the first time and risk it not tasting good. I offered all the traditional favorites – mashed potatoes with gravy, stuffing, and apple pie – made with vegan ingredients. They just happened to be the most delicious vegan versions you've ever had (Thanks, Whole Foods!) That first year, everyone crowed about how good the food was; I think they expected a dismal dinner! But that careful preparation set me up for all the years to come. People look forward to my dinner, and I always start dinner by giving gratitude for a warm house, great family and plenty of nourishing food.

Now the big question, and it doesn't just apply to the holidays: How do you handle confrontational family members who attack your dietary choices at the dinner table? I hope your family is open-minded and supportive about your decision to be vegan, but I know that many are not. If you have concerns, remember these two steps: First, remember that their attack is not about you. Even if you have a long history of not getting along with this person, their issue with your diet is simply not about you. It’s their own stuff coming out under the guise of your diet. Second, respond to their attack in one of two ways: First, if they ask “real” questions, such as “How do you get protein?” (Or, if they’re being cantankerous, “You can’t get enough protein on a vegan diet! I saw that on TV last week!”) just take a deep breath, keep your cool and answer the question. Try your hardest not to get defensive – there is no need to defend anything, as your diet is great for your health, the animals, and the planet – it will hold up on it’s own without you taking a defensive posture. There will likely be many questions, so have patience, and be solid in your heart that you’re doing the right thing for you. If they don’t really have questions, or are clearly just trying to press your buttons and get you riled up, simply use this phrase as many times as you need to: “If you’re truly interested in learning about the vegan diet, I suggest you read ______________ (such as Diet for a New America, by John Robbins.) Once you’ve read it, I’d be happy to answer any questions you still have.” This basically forces them to take action before the conversation can continue. I’ve stalled a specific relative for years now with this phrase. He quit badgering me because he has no intention of educating himself on the vegan diet, and I politely told him I have no interest in having an argument with him about it until he has educated himself on the topic. It’s worked like a charm.

If you have a really argumentative and downright nasty person at the table who just won’t let it go, then say, “I am not asking you to change your diet, so I’d appreciate it if you would quit giving me a hard time about mine. Can we change the subject now, please?” Everyone at the table will appreciate it.

One last note: Do not solicit arguments by preaching about the vegan diet at the dinner table. Many people will already feel threatened by your diet because they know they are not healthy, and don’t want to have to face it. If you start preaching about diet to them, they will likely feel badly about themselves, and may get defensive. Plus, the holidays are about enjoying each other and being grateful for each other – not about asserting personal opinions onto others. So, to avoid riling up your relatives, keep the topic off your diet unless someone brings it up proactively.

I certainly hope your holiday table is pleasant and happy and full of joyful people who respect each other. Remember, your decision to be vegan is doing so much good for your health, the suffering of animals and the environment, that the holidays should be extra joyful! What a blessing to be able to share your holiday table with people you love, eating nourishing food that supports your values.

Surviving the Holidays - Plant Strong

November 3, 2014

Alison is a Registered Dietitian specializing in health and fitness nutrition. She is the co-author of "Go Beyond Good: The Trail to a Lifetime of Health and Vitality." Reprinted from an earlier Thymes.

You have worked hard all year, following a structured fitness plan, eating a well-balanced, plant-strong diet, and reducing your stress levels to help you achieve or maintain a healthy body weight. Congratulations on an excellent job!

The true test of temptation always comes at the end of the year, during the holiday season. There are more goodies in the office, more parties to attend, more food-themed gifts, and all those traditional holiday desserts. Depending on which study you read, a person can gain anywhere from 1-10 pounds between Thanksgiving Day and New Year's Day.

Since food is an important part of many celebrations and family traditions, it's essential to have an Action Plan to avoid weight gain this holiday season.

The Healthy Holiday Action Plan

Click here to read more.

Volunteers Needed for Upcoming Tabling Events

November 2, 2014

We are looking for some energetic volunteers to help staff the Northwest VEG table at the following upcoming Portland events. Tabling is lots of fun and entails talking with interested attendees about a plant-based lifestyle and Northwest VEG offerings (including our classes, potlucks, presentations and more); handing out literature; directing attendees to additional resources and recipes as necessary; and generally putting a positive face to a compassionate lifestyle.
New volunteers are welcome and will be paired with an experienced volunteer. Email our Outreach and Volunteer Coordinator, Chelsea Davis, at for more information.

Fix-It Fair
Where: Parkrose High School (12003 NE Shaver St., Portland)
When: Saturday, November 22
Shifts: 9:15-12:15, 12-3:15

Fur Free Friday March

November 2, 2014

Join us the day after Thanksgiving for In Defense of Animals Portland Fur Free Friday March at the South Park Blocks near SW Salmon St. and SW Park Ave. This peaceful march will begin at 11am and is expected to conclude around 2pm.

Fur Free Friday is the most widely attended annual demonstration in the history of the animal protection movement and the largest animal related free speech event in Portland. Don't miss this opportunity to join with thousands of other activists worldwide for this international day of action.The City of Portland requires us to have at least 200 participants to march in the street, so mark your calendars, and please share this event and help spread the word.

Signs and literature will be provided, but folks are encouraged to make and bring their own, too. Dress for the weather and come rain or shine to speak up for the animals. For questions of more information visit their Facebook event page or contact Eric Phelps at or 503-249-9996.

Recipe of the Month: Eat Your Beets!

November 2, 2014

by Jill Schatz (recipe adapted from The Vegetarian Journal)

Beets are a healthy, colorful addition to fall and winter meals. They're readily available at any grocery store and even fresher tasting when bought from local Farmers Markets. They're a mainstay in my winter garden too, where I always grow Lutz Winterkeeper and Touchstone Gold, and often a white variety as well. The gold is particularly nice grated raw into salads, as the color doesn't bleed, but red varieties have a richer, deeper flavor, while white beets can taste as sweet as candy. Beets are a member of the Amaranth family, which also includes spinach, chard, and even quinoa. They're low in calories, yet highly nutritious. A rich source of minerals, B vitamins, and antioxidants, the roots also host a phytochemical called glycine betaine which lowers the risk for heart disease, stroke and other vascular diseases. Whole beets can be steamed or prepared more quickly in a pressure cooker, after which their skins will slip off easily under cool running water. Below is one of roasting beets to bring out their natural earthy sweetness.

Rosemary Roasted Beets - Recipe Below!

Click here to read more.

Recipe of the Month: Upcycled Cauliflower Steaks

October 5, 2014

By Jeanne Schultz, Northwest VEG volunteer and NW VEG Gresham potluck coordinator

2 organic heads of cauliflower (small to medium)
2-3 tablespoons organic low sodium vegetable broth or filtered water
3 organic sweet peppers-your choice-sliced (orange, red, yellow, green)
3-4 medium organic garlic cloves, smashed & chopped
2 organic sweet white onions-sliced
1 tablespoon fresh, organic herbs mixture-chopped (basil, rosemary, parsley, thyme)
2 cups organic mushrooms, sliced
2 cups organic marinara sauce or one jar of your favorite organic brand
1 teaspoon organic low sodium tamari
Organic chopped parsley-optional

Click here to read more.

Veg Classes for Beginners Start This Sunday!

October 5, 2014

Our popular VEG 101 classes for vegetarian/vegan beginners start again on Sunday, October 12. This is a 6-week series, featuring both a lecture and a cooking demonstration (with samples) each week. The lectures provide an excellent grounding in topics such as health, nutrition, factory farming, environmental impact, and other related subjects. The cooking demonstrations include grains, legumes, tofu, tempeh, seitan, and more.

Learn the basics in a friendly, casual, and supportive atmosphere! It is also very affordable just $55 for the entire series, including the food, ($10 off for NW VEG members), or just $25 for low income. Pre-registration is required. For more information, or to register, please visit

Tofurky Trot 2014

October 5, 2014

When: Thursday, November 27 @ 9am
Where: Mt. Tabor Park, Portland
Details: Join us for a fun 5k run, walk or trot Thanksgiving morning to benefit Northwest VEG and Wildwood Farm Sanctuary. Bring the family and the family dog(s)! Human and canine costume contests! Treats! Prizes! T-shirts for pre-registered participants! Half price for kids! It's a great day to enjoy the company of fellow plant eaters and highlight the benefits of plant-based diets on this largely carnivorous holiday.
Click here for more details and to register.
Interested in volunteering at this great event? Volunteers get treats, an organic cotton Tofurky Trot t-shirt, and heaps of thanks. We encourage costumes and bring your well behaved dog, too! If you are interested, please email Bonnie at for more info.

Plant-Based Health Conference tops 300 Attendees

October 5, 2014

Kent Thronburg, PhD The 5th annual Enhancing Health with Plant-Based Nutrition Health Conference was our largest yet, with 307 health care professionals, students, and others with a strong interest in nutrition attending on September 26. Kent Thornburg (pictured) gave a fascinating talk on how poor nutrition by a young mother can lead to chronic illness not just for her children, but even the next generation. We also learned about preventing inflammation through a plant-based diet, using healthy food to prevent and reverse type 2 diabetes, and how the microbiome in our guts can either help us or hurt us, depending on what we feed it. Dr. Joel Fuhrman gave the final talk, pointing out how a nutrient-dense diet high in greens, beans, and seeds can help people restore or maintain a healthy body weight and reduce and reverse heart disease and diabetes. This evidence-based educational event was co-sponsored by Northwest VEG and Adventist Medical Center and made possible through generous food donations and months of dedication from our hard working volunteers.

10th Anniversary VegFest: A Great Success!

October 5, 2014

On September 27 and 28 more than 6,500 people flooded through the Portland VegFest doors and devoured hundreds of food samples, shopped with our veg-savvy exhibitors, attended inspiring talks, mouth-watering cooking demos, and participated on the fitness floor.

We are so thankful for our generous sponsors, amazing exhibitors and product donors, more than 300 dedicated volunteers, and the thousands of you who discovered and celebrated the wonderful benefits of plant-based food. We couldn't do it without you!

Did you become a Vegan Super Hero in our photo booth? Check out these pictures and many more on our Facebook page. And please be sure to share pictures that you personally took of this amazing community event.

We would also like to take a moment to once again thank all the Portland VegFest 2014 sponsors - The Oregonian, Book Publishing Company, Earthly Gourmet, Echo Fund, Grow Creative, KBOO, Plant Fusion, The Stanford Inn, Professional Platinum Cooking System, Turtle Island Foods, Edible Portland, Natural Awakenings, One Degree Organic Foods, Pacific Natural Foods, RUNA, So Delicious Dairy Free, Symple Foods, Toby's Family Foods, Ultima Replenisher, and Mom's Vegan Kitchen. If you are interested in sponsoring Portland VegFest 2015, please contact

5th Annual Enhancing Health with Plant-Based Nutrition Medical Conference

September 26, 2014

On Friday, September 26, Northwest VEG and Adventist Medical Center will host the 5th annual Enhancing Health with Plant-Based Nutrition Professional Conference. Join us at a NEW location, the Oregon Ballroom at the Oregon Convention Center, for this groundbreaking conference that is aimed at doctors, nurses, dietitians, naturopaths, and all other health professionals who would like to find out the latest information about plant-based diets with respect to clinical nutrition, chronic disease prevention and control, and designing an optimum plant-based diet. 6.25 Continuing Education Credits will be provided for health professionals and a gourmet plant-based lunch will also be featured.
More information and registration is available at
This year's faculty includes:

  • Joel Fuhrman, MD Combating Hunger and Obesity with a High Nutrient Dense Diet
    Dr. Joel Fuhrman is a board-certified family physician, New York Times best-selling author, nutritional researcher and internationally recognized expert on nutrition and natural healing.

    Click here to read more.

Thank you 2014 Portland VegFest Sponsors!

September 7, 2014

Cheers to the sponsors of our 10th annual Portland VegFest on Sept. 27 and 28 - we couldn't do it without your support! And we're grateful for our community's generosity and commitment to nurturing compassion, sound environmental practices and healthy living.

A huge thanks to our Media Sponsor, The Oregonian, Oregon's largest newspaper, publishing Northwest business, politics, sports, culture, entertainment, cuisine and more since 1850.

And our wonderful Gold Sponsors: 8-year Portland VegFest sponsor Book Publishing Company, supplying veg books galore; Echo Fund, facilitating an exchange of creativity and empowerment; KBOO community radio, Portland's listener-supported community radio station; PlantFusion, 100% plant-based protein shakes and meal shakes; Professional Platinum Cooking System, the healthiest environmentally friendly way to cook; The Stanford Inn, Mendocino Coast hillside eco-resort; Turtle Island Foods, producers of Tofurky brand gourmet meatless sausages, deli slices, marinated tempeh, frozen pizza, and more!

We also have great Silver Sponsor support: Edible Portland, Natural Awakenings, One Degree Organic Foods, Organically Grown Company, Pacific Natural Foods, RUNA, So Delicious Dairy Free (sponsoring Rebecca Gilbert), Symple Foods, Toby's Family Foods, Ultima Replenisher, and Mom's Vegan Kitchen.

Please read more about our generous sponsors on our Sponsor page and visit them at Portland VegFest!

Inspiring Plant-Based Health Conference 9/26

September 5, 2014

Join Northwest VEG and Adventist Medical on September 26 at the Oregon Convention Center for the 5th annual Enhancing Health with Plant-based Nutrition Medical Conference. This one-day conference, supported by influential medical groups such as Kaiser Permanente and Legacy Health, is designed for dietitians, physicians, naturopathic and chiropractic doctors, nurses, and other health care professionals interested in learning about the latest information on plant-based diets with respect to clinical nutrition and the effects of diet on chronic disease prevention and control. 6 Hours continuing education are available for health profession attendees. Click here for more info and to register!

Be a Part of Portland VegFest 2014, Get In FREE!

September 5, 2014

Volunteer at Portland VegFest!
When: Friday, September 26 - Sunday, September 28
Where: Oregon Convention Center
Details: More than 400 volunteers are needed to help make Northwest VEG's 10th Annual Portland VegFest a success. Did you know that volunteering for just one 3-hour shift earns you free admission to BOTH days of Portland VegFest?! Plus, this year volunteers get a commemorative t-shirt, a chance to win great prizes and an opportunity to hangout in our volunteer break room filled with treats and other surprises. There is something for everyone! We still need help with setup, cleanup, the registration table, the NW VEG table (experience required), passing out food samples, working at recycling stations, the children's or teen area (face painters and makeup artists needed), dressing up in a veggie costume, the fitness stage, the kitchen, and more. You can also assist beforehand by signing up to distribute posters and postcards around town to promote Portland VegFest. We need your help to make this year's Portland VegFest the best yet!
Please email Chelsea Davis, Northwest VEG's Outreach and Volunteer Coordinator, for more information at

We are also looking for a few awesome volunteers to table with us at the following upcoming community events:
Table with us at Farm Sanctuary's Walk for Farm Animals
When: Saturday, September 13
Shifts: 9:30am-2:15pm (before and after the walk)
Details: Volunteers are needed to help staff the Northwest VEG table at this great event and talk to interested attendees about plant-based diets and Northwest VEG offerings (including our classes, potlucks, presentations, and more); handing out literature, directing attendees to additional resources and recipes as necessary; and generally putting a positive face to plant-based diets. New volunteers will be paired with experienced volunteers!
Please email Chelsea Davis, Northwest VEG's Outreach and Volunteer Coordinator, for more information at

Table with us at Brian Clement's Our Toxic World: Dealing with Disease and Cancer event
When: Wednesday, September 24
Shifts: 6:00-9:00pm (before and after talk)
Details: Volunteers are needed to help staff the Northwest VEG table at this great event and talk to interested attendees about plant-based diets and Northwest VEG offerings (including our classes, potlucks, presentations, and more); handing out literature, directing attendees to additional resources and recipes as necessary; and generally putting a positive face to plant-based diets. New volunteers will be paired with experienced volunteers!
Please email Chelsea Davis, Northwest VEG's Outreach and Volunteer Coordinator, for more information at

Recipe of the Month: Cream of Broccoli Soup

August 9, 2014

By Rebecca Gilbert, founder of and author of It's Easy to Start Eating Vegan.
Meet her later this month at Portland VegFest, September 27 and 28!

Vegan Cream of Broccoli Soup
Prep time = 15 minutes, Cook time = 30 minutes, Servings = 6

  • 4 cups broccoli, chopped
  • 1 cup broccoli florets (for garnish)
  • cup dried shiitake mushrooms soaked in 1 cup of warm water
  • 2 small potatoes, chopped
  • 2 cups unsweetened non-dairy milk
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper

Click here to read more.

Cowspiracy Attempts to Change the Climate Change Debate

August 9, 2014

The new crowd-funded documentary, Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret, about the impacts of animal agriculture on the environment, premiered in Portland on July 24th at Cinema 21 theater, to a large and receptive crowd. .

In trying to find out why some mainstream environmental organizations have been slow to take action on these impacts, co-producers Kip Anderson and Keegan Kuhn encounter a wealth of data to challenge the acceptability of raising animals for food. Did you miss the Portland premiere? No problem! You can see Cowspiracy and meet the star and co-producer, Kip Anderson, in our NEW film room at Portland VegFest this September 27 and 28 at the Oregon Convention Center!

Here is the post-film Q&A with the producers at Cinema 21 following the Portland premiere:

Oyster Mushroom and Baby Bok Choy Curry

August 7, 2014

As seen in Paleo Vegan: Plant-Based Primal Recipes by Portland VegFest 2014 presenters Ellen Jaffe Jones and Alan Roettinger.

12 ounces firm tofu, cut into cubes (optional)
1 T low sodium tamari (optional)
1 pound oyster mushrooms

Click here to read more.

Upcoming Health Conference: Share with your Doctor!

August 4, 2014

Join Northwest VEG and Adventist Medical on September 26 at the Oregon Convention Center for the 5th annual Enhancing Health with Plant-based Nutrition Medical Conference.

We all know that medical doctors get very little nutrition training, but good nutrition can be key to preventing and reversing type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and many other chronic illnesses. That message is now getting out, and this year Kaiser Permanente and Legacy Health have both signed on as supporters of Enhancing Health with Plant-Based Nutrition, the professional health conference sponsored by Northwest VEG and Adventist Health.

This year, Joel Fuhrman, MD, author of Eat to Live and The End of Diabetes will be the conference keynote speaker, joining five other diet and nutrition experts from around the country in presenting the latest information on plant-based nutrition. The conference is aimed at health care professionals, including nurses, dietitians, and health coaches as well as doctors, but other are welcome to attend. 6.25 Continuing Education Credits will be provided for health professionals. Help us get the word out by sharing this information so that others will know of this great opportunity for inexpensive continuing education credits. Registration is now open!

Volunteer Spotlight: Jeanne Schultz

August 4, 2014

We met Jeanne in our Master VEG Program in 2011 and since then have really enjoyed her involvement and support of Northwest VEG. We are especially excited that Jeanne is organizing a NEW quarterly NW VEG Gresham Potluck starting this October! Read on to find out more...

1. How long have you been veg and why?
I was a lacto-ovo vegetarian (with the occasional seafood) for over 25 years, before adopting an all plant-based diet in 2011.

Click here to read more.

Time to sign up for your fall CSA!

August 3, 2014

Think you missed out on a CSA? Its not too late to become a member of a Community Supported Agriculture farm and receive local, sustainably grown vegetables each week through the fall and winter. Our friends the Portland Area CSA Coalition will help you find your farmer at