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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Board Member Spotlight on Cindy Koczy

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November 29, 2011

Cindy Koczy is an integral part of all things NW VEG. Whether she's assisting chefs in the kitchen, staffing an outreach table, or planning future activities, Cindy's deep compassion and warmth shine through. Thanks for all you do, Cindy!

Can you describe your path to a plant-based diet?
The doctor's blood test revealed frightening results about my health. I knew I was overweight at 230 pounds, but little did I know that my blood pressure was high, I was pre-diabetic, and when the doctor mentioned he wanted to write me three different prescriptions, including one for high cholesterol, a light bulb went on in my head linking animal consumption to cholesterol. Both my parents died of these diseases. I decided in the doctor’s office I could no longer be complacent about my serious health issues. I went home, cleaned out the pantry, fridge and freezer and went vegan overnight! That was eight years ago, and truly one of the best decisions I made for my life.

How did you first get involved with Northwest VEG?
I was into the diet change for a year and while reading the paper one morning I noticed a little blurb about a vegetarian potluck. I showed up and remember being impressed by all the delicious food and how welcomed and supported I felt by having my questions answered, even the dumb ones. I accepted an invitation to join the board soon after.

What are the key responsibilities that you have taken on as a Board Member?
Our mission is to educate people and help them transition to a plant-based diet. I love reaching out to people and making them feel welcome. Besides a lot of tabling in the past, I have facilitated the westside potluck for 7 years, and enjoy attending all other potlucks. I have also been coordinating the VegFest kitchen for 7 years. I am still on the development committee for our always popular Master Veg program. There’s also been some Veg 101 involvement. I find I get energized at all our events when I meet and talk with old and new friends. All that gives me plenty of opportunities to help shape what NW VEG is all about.

What is your favorite thing about Northwest VEG?
All past and current board members. Our wonderful volunteers. All the important work we do on behalf of animals. All the many connections I have made with like-minded organizations in town. We are all building community and friendships. It gives me great pleasure to watch people make the transition and see their attitude change. All the fascinating people I have met who ignite my mind, like Matt Ball, Will Potter, T. Colin Campbell, Neal Barnard, John Robbins, and of course the “mad cowboy” Howard Lyman, and so many vegan chefs.

Any tips for our readers (to enjoy a happy & healthy holiday season)?
People may not remember all you say and do, but they will remember how you made them feel. So get out there, be courteous, smile, be patient, and pay it forward while you educate. Try some new foods and experiment! Eat greens, and lots of them. Hug some trees, animals and people. If we could inspire everyone to make a commitment to non-exploitation of animals, we could bring about the greatest peaceful revolution. Laugh, love, have fun, be silly!

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