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NW VEG President looks back (and forward)
December 29, 2009
Peter Spendelow, NW VEG President

As a new year begins, it is good to look back at what we accomplished and look forward to what is coming up. 2009 was a good year for our Northwest VEG community. Our VegFest 2009 was the largest yet, attracting 3700 people to the Oregon Convention Center to hear great national and local speakers such as Dr. John McDougall, Rip Esselstyn, Kathy Freston, Isa Chandra Moskowitz, and Vesanto Melina.

Our Compassionate Thanksgiving was probably the largest vegan potluck ever held in Portland, with more than 200 registered. We had 50 people sign up for the Master Vegetarian Program and 60 people take our Veg 101 classes. We held monthly potlucks with speakers in Portland and Vancouver, helped co-sponsor Try Vegan Week and the Let Live Conference, gave talks and presented information at numerous conferences and events, and worked hard to build our community and help promote a plant-based diet.

Our community has grown, too. We now have eight local vegan restaurants, two vegan bakeries, and five vegan food carts listed on the Northwest VEG web site and in our dining and shopping guide. Add to that 11 restaurants, eight food carts, and three snack bars that are vegetarian, plus dozens of vegetarian-friendly restaurants, plus vegan and vegetarian grocery stores such as Food Fight, People's Food Co-op and Proper Eats, and clearly we have more food choices than ever before. We now have more than 3,200 people signed up for our electronic newsletter. Local newspapers such as The Oregonian, Willamette Week, and the Portland Tribune have had significantly more articles on vegetarian issues this year than we've ever seen in the past.

We've come far, but we have so far to go. The sad fact is that most people in the Portland/Vancouver Metro area still eat the "Standard American Diet," which is heavy in meat, dairy, and processed foods, as unhealthy and as damaging to the environment as it is. Billions of animals are still being raised under intense confinement and cruel conditions and slaughtered when very young, in spite of all the healthy and environmentally-friendly food options we have.

So where do we go from here? It is important, as 2010 begins, that we keep working hard to build our community and to provide our residents with solid information on the health, environmental, and animal treatment aspects of the food we eat. With your support, Northwest VEG intends to do that.

To begin with, we are making VegFest an even bigger event this year. Mark your calendars now for September 18 and 19, 2010, as we expand VegFest into a two-day event at the Oregon Convention Center. This means even more speakers, more food exhibitors, and more free food samples. We are also continuing both the Master Vegetarian and the Veg 101 classes this year. These classes provide our members and friends with a solid fact-filled basis for understanding food issues. Of course we will be continuing our monthly potlucks and activities such as our veganic gardening group, book club, vegan "Happy Hours," and special events. We want to expand our offerings, though, with more events, more interest groups, and more community talks and film showings.

What can you do to participate? One thing we really need is more members. A large membership would be a great help in getting out our message to the community and providing more support for us all. Northwest VEG membership is inexpensive, and we even have a volunteer membership category. See www.nwveg.org/join.php for more information. Helping create a more informed community would also be valuable. Consider taking our Veg 101 or Master Vegetarian Program courses this spring to really get a solid background in all aspects of vegetarian and food issues. Finally, there are lots of projects and activities you can help out with. Visit www.nwveg.org/volunteer.php and let us know how you'd like to help.

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