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 Keith Iding

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March 1, 2012

We're excited to feature Keith Iding, a truly thoughtful and compassionate board member. Thanks for all that you do, Keith!

Q: Can you describe your path to a plant-based diet?
A: When I was a kid, no one I knew talked about vegetarians. It just wasnít on the radar, but I definitely did not care for meat with bones and veins and stuff showing. I identified with animals, thought they were all my friends, but the reality then was that you had to eat meat to be healthy. I remember as a teen that I had an album by the Association, and a band member, Gary Alexander, was described on the back cover as not eating meat. I was amazed at that disclosure and the idea was planted that one might not need it to survive.

In my 20's I joined a study group that included some older lifelong vegetarians, people in their 70ís and 80ís, and they were looking and sounding pretty good. That was when I decided to give it a try - I had dinner with a vegetarian friend and his wife, and they shared their favorite recipes and sources to get me going. I actually never looked back, just proudly stuck to the change, because I didnít have to feel guilty any more. Then I struggled with the idea of milk and cheese and eggs, and whether they had nutritional or ethical validity. I decided that it was more important to be consistent with my values and I went vegan almost 20 years ago, in time to make that a lifestyle by the time my son came along. We raised him vegan and he has always been a healthy looking example, big and strong for his age. Going plant based has been nothing but positive.

Q: How did you first get involved with Northwest VEG?
A: The first NW VEG event I attended was the VegFest held downstairs at First Unitarian Church. That place was impressively crowded, great attendance. Howard Lyman was one of the guest speakers and I took lots of photos. I was already a vegan and a member of that church, so I felt inspired. When I learned that NW VEG sponsored regular potlucks, that was like finding lost relatives. NW VEG came to my rescue when they chose that venue for their ever more popular VegFest event, and I looked for ways to contribute and get more involved.

Q: What are the key responsibilities that you have taken on as a Board Member?
A: I see myself as a reinforcement to try to help keep things balanced 'across the Board.' As a basic role, I try to be there for tabling vacancies, and to support activities I believe in. For instance, I really like the book discussion groups, so, I offered to help manage the online presence and to assure that we have a meeting place and a moderator. I also like being involved in the monthly dineouts, so I am now involved in the planning and helping with arrangements and tracking participation. I am looking forward to helping to expand both of those activities. I also try to weigh in during discussions around votes, to highlight what I see as key points worth consideration.

My main interest with NW VEG is to try to help get the message out. I am trained in video production and photography, so I thought those were skills to bring forward. Guest speakers at NW VEG events are experts who can best define the cultural change we support. When I see a packed room of 50 people witnessing a persuasive talk, I feel a strong need to try to expand the audience. I enjoy trying to capture the message and share it. These days the Internet gives us previously unimagined connectivity to the rest of the world, and I have tracked the viewers of what we post on our media page from all over the world. I also have set up cable TV interviews to help promote our events and attract new members and volunteers.

Q: What is your favorite thing about Northwest VEG?
A:I really like the way NW VEG has rallied around its principles. We know what we are about; defining the change that we all agree is necessary for real future sustainability, for improving human health through dietary change, for improving the lives of animals by respecting their identities as evolved beings just like us, and for reducing our destructive impacts on the world through less animal agriculture. We are on a mission, we know it, and all the facts are with us.

I also like the people in NW VEG. I feel like they are all family. We are united by a common purpose and we share a lifestyle of caring and respect. This is not just a group who sponsors dining events. We believe, along with others all over the world, that we are tied to bringing a message of essential change, and we try to do this in the best ways we can imagine and carry out. Our strength is that we can accomplish so much more than any one individual.

Q: Anything else you'd like to share with our readers?
A: Our time is certainly a defining moment for the future. The planet is awash in people. Our combined appetite and our sense of purpose will decide the true sustainability. I just came back from a public meeting promoting solar energy use. We heard about incredibly huge Asian populations and about how the future depends on our willingness to let go of fossil fuels. We went through an itemized energy audit so we could all be aware of our individual contributions to global warming. The impact of diet was never mentioned, even though animal agriculture accounts for more global warming than all transportation combined, uses 3/4 of the worldís fertile lands, produces most of the water and airborne organic pollution, and requires more than 10 times the water use needed to support a vegan diet. Our culture has a blind spot when faced with those details, and our media is unlikely to enlighten us because everything seems to be about money and profit. Itís really up to us as individuals to live by what we see as truth. Thatís why I encourage anyone reading this to align with NW VEG and join our family to change the future one life at a time.

I would also like to extend an invitation to anyone who wants to help with recording our events or planning new ways to share media and promote our educational agenda.

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