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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Volunteer Spotlight

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June 1, 2011

By Anne Goldfeld, Volunteer Coordinator

This month we are pleased to feature Richard Crimi, one of NW VEG's outstanding Community Outreach Champions. Check out our volunteer page to find out more about this and other opportunities. The next Community Outreach Champion workshop is tentatively scheduled for Sunday, July 17th, just prior to the Eastside potluck – mark your calendars and/or email Anne at for updates!

1. How long have you been veg and why?
Most of the past 15-20 years, doing a slow unwind of things in my diet. In the late 80's I started subscribing to Vegetarian Times and trying out some recipes. I eliminated red meat from my diet on July 4, 1993 to celebrate the holiday. Next was dairy, ordering a plain pizza with no cheese and watching the puzzlement on the face of the store clerk. In the mid 90's I went on a 10-day backtrip to the high Sierras and, to my delight, the meals had no meat or dairy. I began cooking all my meals from vegetarian and raw cookbooks. I've been all veg for 4-5 years now, eliminating all animal products from my meals.

The initial attraction for me was to improve my health. Then I began learning about the environmental impact. The most endearing, though, is perhaps when I finally grasped what it does to the animals. That started with a trip to Lighthouse Farm Sanctuary around Thanksgiving in 2000 and seeing all the animals interact and hearing their stories. Now I can't bear the thought of how mean it is for cows, scary for pigs, or cruel for fish and chickens to be confined, caught and slaughtered. How would you like that done to one of your family members?

2. How has being veg impacted your life?
Multiple and sometimes subtle ways. There are the physical things such as having more energy, keeping my weight contained and just feeling good. There is a spiritual sense of being more connected to the natural world. I love supporting our Farmers' Markets and getting fresh, local, nutrient-rich produce. There are the fine friends I found through NW VEG. And the biggest impact in my daily life is the connection with my animal companions, my dearly recently departed dog and my spunky cat, Bud.

3. How did you get involved with volunteering for NW VEG?
I began by pitching in at potlucks to set up or tear down tables and chairs. Then a few years ago, Wendy Gabbe Day reached out and asked if I'd do a tabling event at a Fix-It Fair. I was a little nervous until I got in the hall. I'd done tabling before, and I love the energy from it. I haven't looked back since. Since then, I've done the Better Living Show and VegFest every year and some other events. I've had a lot of fun distributing literature for VegFest the past few years. There are a lot more ways to volunteer for anyone interested.

4. What has been your favorite or most memorable NW VEG volunteer experience?
I'd have to say it was the recent tabling I did for the screening of Forks Over Knives (great movie, be sure to see it). Not once, but twice, I had women come up to me who had brought their whole family back to see the movie. One lady told me she saw it and went home and announced they were going all vegan. The other lady said they had just had dinner and were calling it "The Last Supper" and quipped, "It's the only way to do it; they don't know what they’re in for." I wish them luck and the best success. I met so many other excited people there.

5. What advice would you give to individuals considering volunteering for NW VEG?
Volunteer any way you can contribute -- it's very rewarding. Check out the opportunities on the NWVEG website. There's something for everyone. Don't worry if you're not sure if you have the skills or time -- you do. Take the outreach training that Marsha Rakestraw does. It's fun, and you learn a lot. And please pitch in at a potluck. It only takes a few minutes, helps us all out, and you'll eat fantastic, amazing veg food. And there's the camaraderie of like-minded people. :)

6. What is your favorite veg meal, either homemade or from a restaurant?
I can't choose just one! I have two stalwart mainstay cookbooks full of recipes I love: The American Vegetarian (it's actually all vegan) that my sister gave me in 1998, and Tofu Cookery that I sent her a copy of a few years ago. I actually own two copies of each; one set is well worn with comments written all over, and the other set I picked up last year at Powell's. Restaurant-wise, I like Vita Cafe a whole lot; the Vegan Club Sandwich is a real treat. I could go on. There are so many great places in our area. Please support them--you'll like it.

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