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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Master VEG Graduates the 13th Class

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June 6, 2016

By Jaclyn Leeds, Executive Director

I had the pleasure this past April and May of jumping into the Master VEG program so dutifully organized by board members Peter and Cindy. For eight consecutive Wednesdays, our Master VEG class met at People's Food Co-op and heard from experts on health, animal behavior, the intersection of human and animal welfare as pertains to industrialized farming, the effect of dietary choices on the environment, the joys and challenges of running a vegan-focused business, and what we can do to make a positive difference in both our own and others' lives. Although I have eaten vegan for years, I gained new nutrition tidbits, heard about compelling health studies that will better inform discussions I have with friends about my dietary choices, and learned some fun facts. Fun fact: Did you know that the Clark's Nutcracker (a medium-sized bird) can bury 30,000 pine nuts in three weeks, and retrieve 90% of them over the next six months, even when the ground is covered in snow? With that kind of memory, I would never forget where I put my keys.

Fun facts aside, I have been reflecting over the past week on the most valuable thing I gained from Master VEG: a couple dozen new friends. The Wednesday following the last week of class, we missed each other, and we met at Vtopia to share a delicious vegan cheesy meal. I was fortunate to attend law school in a program where I made many vegan friends; hearing about others' school and job experiences (where there were fewer or no vegans) reaffirmed for me how much having vegan and open-minded veg-curious community means to me. Eating is such a big part of tradition, culture, travel, and both social and professional engagements, and no one can choose to not eat. All of us in Master VEG came to class from different backgrounds with different reasons for being there, but sharing that value and respect for compassionate food choices made those weekly classes my own kind of sanctuary.

Let Northwest VEG help you cultivate your own compassionate community. Come volunteer for VegFest with soon-to-be friends, come to a potluck or a featured speaker, or let us know what else would facilitate your community building. My wish for Northwest VEG and for you is that we come together to celebrate both our shared values and our differences, because everyone deserves to find that sanctuary community.

And of course, stay tuned for next spring's Master VEG - you won't want to miss out.

The photo is from a work party at Out To Pasture Sanctuary many of us attended. (Photo by Beth Redwood (c)

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