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: Larry Simpson

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October 30, 2012

Q. How long have you been veg and why?
A. About 12 years ago my work life changed so I had my afternoons free. I started using my free time to cook our evening meals and started getting very creative. I made the mistake of hanging out at Peopleís Co-op noticing how vibrant the people and the fruits and veggies looked. I bought a vegetarian cookbook and from that point on, the rest was history as they say. About 4 years ago, I became vegan primarily for dietary and nutritional reasons. Now, instead of discussing the vegan way with friends and family members at gatherings, I cook vegan. Just let it be said there are never any leftovers.

Q. How has being veg impacted your life?
A. Several interesting things have happened. First, I lost forty pounds and have kept it off just from the change of eating habits. Being veg is not a diet; it is a lifestyle change. Next, I am constantly full of energy and free of ailments: I have not even had a cold in the past 4 years. This may be the luck of the draw, but I contribute it to filling my body with the appropriate vitamins and minerals. Finally, I am more aware of the interconnectedness of everything in nature: not only what we eat, but how it is grown and prepared. I now have a vast collection of vegan cookbooks and have enrolled at PCC to become a holistic nutritional therapist. I canít seem to keep my hands out of the dirt in the backyard and am clearing more space to veganically (organic without the use of ANY animal products) grow our own foods.

Q. How did you get involved with volunteering for NW VEG?
A. I stumbled into the Master Veg classes and was absolutely amazed. If changing your diet isnít your driving force, you will find there are numerous other important reasons to be vegan. Soon it is no longer sufficient to be merely living the vegan way; it is important to help others learn what it is about and there is no better way to do it than through NW VEG.

Q. What has been your favorite or most memorable NW VEG volunteer experience?
A. I have to say without a doubt, it was volunteering for VegFest 2012. I was able to be a kitchen coordinator, which was an experience beyond my wildest dreams. There was not a dull moment. We were responsible for preparing 200 samples for the guest chef/ speakers prior to them giving their talks. We interfaced with some of the name chefs in the vegan world and developed friendships that will go far beyond the two day event. It was tough, demanding work at times, but I have already signed up to do it again next year. The year would not be the same without working at Portland VegFest 2012.

Q. What advice would you give to individuals considering volunteering for NW VEG?
A. This is the easiest question of the group. Do it! Regardless of whether you are a full-blown vegan or just in the early stages of considering making this life altering change, you will be surrounded by very supportive peers. There is always something more to learn and someone will have the answer. And it is fun!

Q. What is your favorite veg meal, either homemade or from a restaurant?
A. Wow, having to choose is difficult; there are so many. I have enjoyed great vegan dishes up and down the west coast, but one that I have made frequently for family events is Tempeh Sloppy Joes borrowed from PCRM. In the intro line from PCRM it says "this recipe will have you catching every bite before it falls on your plate or the floor." Even the non-vegans in our family love it.

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