I recently had the opportunity to participate in a fantastic vegan educational event, where I joined fellow Gentle World volunteers in serving delicious food to hundreds of people, many of whom were unfamiliar with vegan food and the philosophy behind the practice of veganism.
Every year, in the beginning of October, Gentle World volunteers set up a ‘vegan restaurant for a day’, smack in the middle of a fairly typical Country Fair, an event where almost every other booth serves ‘Standard American Fair Food’.
Because we have learned over the years that ‘a taste is worth a thousand words’, we take great care in providing a beautiful selection of lovingly-prepared, wholesome, incredibly delicious food. The result is that our booth attracts not only vegetarians and vegans, and those who want to eat more consciously, but even folks with a standard diet who come simply because they have heard about how good the food is, and they want to see whether it’s true. What’s amazing is that when people experience really good vegan food, their hearts and minds are more open to learning about the reasons for being vegan, and the benefits of vegan living.
On the menu this year were two types of veggie burgers offered on a selection of healthy burger buns, Kung Pao “Chicken” (an amazing mock meat dish that” everyone went absolutely wild over – including myself), and a mouth-watering array of Gentle World’s signature dishes such as “Better-than-Beef” Seitan Barbecue, Creamy Coleslaw, Cashew-Carrot Pate, and Tofu “Eggless” Salad wrapped in two types of tortillas. The deal was then sweetened with a wide selection of desserts and beverages (including our world-famous banana bread, baked by yours truly).
Alongside the food, we displayed vegan products, recipes and nutritional information. Most important, we provided diners with the opportunity to learn more about the reasons for being vegan, as outlined in the highly recommended vegan advocacy pamphlet produced by the Boston Vegan Association: Respecting Animals Means Being Vegan.
Free samples of snack foods, teas and grain coffees, and a huge array of other vegan products such as toiletries and cleaning products were there for the taking, thanks to the kind support of our sponsors. These were offered not only at the counters, but also in a basket carried around the fairground by one of our volunteers, helping to spread the joy (and the message) well beyond the boundaries of the booth.
Gentle World’s presence at the annual Country Fair provides us with a unique opportunity to educate many different kinds of people, from those who are aware of the benefits of veganism, to those who have never given it a thought. By providing them with the information and tools they will need to make the transition, we spark a conversation that brings out the best in human nature and moves people at least a little closer to understanding the vegan concept.
This kind of educational event is not only fun and exciting to participate in, but it’s a great way of spreading the word that vegan living doesn’t have to involve deprivation or bland, boring food. Changing the current perception of vegan cuisine as being ‘rabbit food’ or ‘rice and beans’ is an essential part of inviting others to join our movement toward a more peaceful, non-violent world.
Was it a success? One diner said that ours was the best food she had ever tasted. You can’t get much better than that.
Learn more about Gentle World and our educational program by visiting our website, www.gentleworld.org.