Food, Glorious Food!

“From Grant-Based Activism to a Plant-Based Career” – A webinar with a former VegFund grantee

As vegans, we celebrate plant-based foods as delicious, healthful, ethical, and compassionate. Plant-based foods are now one of the fastest-growing segments of the food-service industry. If you’ve ever entertained thoughts of working in the area of vegan food service, read on!

Last month, Liz Gary, founder of the New Options Food Group in San Diego and former VegFund grantee joined us to present our third activist training webinar “From Grant-Based Activism to a Plant-Based Career.” Liz shared her experience in the vegan food business along with her insider recommendations for finding or creating new career opportunities as plant-based foods professionals — whether full-time/career-track or part-time.

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We hope those of you who joined us found the topic inspiring. For those of you who were not able to attend, you can view the full presentation at VegFund’s  Activist Resource Center. Below is just a “taste” of the valuable information Liz conveyed in the webinar.

“Everywhere you go there is opportunity.” ~ Liz

Liz’s tips on getting started in the vegan food business and where to find or create jobs fell into the following categories:

  • Community engagement
  • Rewarding jobs in education
  • Representing plant-based foods manufacturers and consulting in the food service industry
  • Culinary travel and tourism
  • Special events and media

Community engagement

Get involved in the local community

  • Find out what events are happening near you — green fairs, cooking classes, food tastings, community markets, etc.
  • Better still — organize your own vegan food fair! You can apply for grant support from VegFund here.
  • Watch for paid and voluntary opportunities at nonprofit animal rights organizations such as The Humane League, Vegan Outreach, Farm Sanctuary, and FARM
  • And network, network, network!
Photograph courtesy of VegFest UK

Photograph courtesy of VegFest UK

 “Outreach and community engagement translate into growth in the plant-based foods economy.” ~ Liz

Rewarding jobs in education

Consider teaching or setting up a “vegan cook club” within your local community! The following venues offer great opportunities to educate and engage with your community:

  • Retail kitchen stores
  • Cooking schools
  • Local community colleges, high schools, your local public library
  • Hospitals
  • Test-kitchen Tuesdays (donation-based community classes)

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Representing plant-based foods manufacturers and consulting in the food service industry

Offer your plant-based food expertise and consult with the main drivers of the food network:

  • Represent locally made plant-based products
  • Sell your products and services to your local hospitals
  • Consult with chefs
  • Get \on-board with popular political food days, such as Meatless Mondays and California Fresh Thursdays and use these as an opportunity to work more closely with your local schools
  • Work with food administrators and distributors at correctional institutions
Photograph Courtesy of Food Tank

Photograph Courtesy of Food Tank

 Culinary travel and tourism

Excite your local community with the offer of organized day trips to learn more about the benefits of plant-based foods. The following suggestions are popular options:

  • Vegan restaurant trips
  • Trips to Whole Foods Market
  • Visit an animal sanctuary
  • Vegan food and fashion shopping trips
  • Visit a nonprofit animal rights office
  • And more!
Moses the Pig (Photograph Courtesy of Catskill Animal Sanctuary)

Moses the Pig (Photograph Courtesy of Catskill Animal Sanctuary)

 Special events and media

Holiday-themed events are a great starting point for engaging your community, especially if they translate well into a great local story or news item.

  • Organize events around annual vegan holidays and national events, and get your community involved along the way; for example, Vegan Valentine’s Fun Run, Vegan Octoberfest, Cookie Bake-a-thon
  • Talk to news organizations (whether print or TV) about vegan food
  • Arrange lunch-time talks within local schools and workplaces
Kindred Spirits Care Farm Food Day LA 2015

Kindred Spirits Care Farm Food Day LA 2015

There are many opportunities waiting for you. Take the first steps today and build from there. Find out more about VegFund’s grant programs to support activists in their vegan outreach efforts.

The full webinar recording and slide show summary of key points are now available in our Activist Resource Center, where you can view all webinars from the training series so far. We also provide other online resources to support you in your animal advocacy.

If you have suggestions for resources you’d like to see featured on here send them our way for consideration. Email info@vegfund.org or tell us on social media. You can find us on Facebook and on Twitter. If you have specific questions for Liz on the content of this webinar, you can contact her directly via email: liz@newoptionsfoodgroup.com.

 

Your 2014 Guide to Vegan Festivals and Events in the Midwest

By Leslie Brefeld, 2014 Winter Intern

Looking to get out and expand your vegan circle? One great way to meet like-minded folks who share your compassionate eating values is to attend a VegFest. With more and more vegan festivals popping up each year, even areas that aren’t known for being particularly “veg-friendly,” such as the Midwest, can now boast of several great events. Most festivals are free and offer a day (or two) of festival-atmosphere fun with music, educational speakers and activities for kids. Below are just some of the events that are taking place this year. If there are other vegan festivals in the Midwest that you enjoy, please keep the conversation going by posting the details in the comments section. Thanks!

VegFest, Vegan Tastefest and Expo

Date: April 13
Location: Novi, Michigan
Time: 10:30 am to 5 pm
Cost: $10 admission

The festival features speakers including Daryl Hannah on Turning Inspiration into Action, cooking demos, a food court, children’s activities and an expo with vegan, environmental and healthy products and services.

Chicago Veggie Pride Parade

Date: May 31
Location: Grant Park in Chicago, Illinois
Time: Parade is at noon, registration is at 11 am
Cost: Free admission

Join the parade to support local vegans and vegetarians, raise awareness about a plant-based diet, and socialize with like-minded people.

Mad City Vegan Fest

Date: June 7
Location: Madison, Wisconsin
Time: 10 am to 5 pm
Cost: Free admission

Madison is an awesome city, so any excuse to spend a nice summer day up there is a no-brainer. Check out http://madisonvegan.com/ if you want to hit up a vegan restaurant while in town. The festival features speakers including author Nick Cooney, cooking demos, exhibitors and free food.

Veggie Fest 2014

Date: August 9-10
Location: Naperville, Illinois
Time: 11 am to 8 pm
Cost: Free admission

Veggie Fest is the big one in Chicago. It’s named in VegNews magazine’s 2011 list of Must-Visit Summer Vegetarian Festivals. And according to their facebook page, Veggie Fest is one of the largest vegetarian festivals in the country. The festival features over two days of live bands, a Spirituality and Health Symposium, international food court, art show, food demos and family events.

Chicago Vegan Mania

Date: October 11
Location: Chicago, Illinois
Time: 10 am to 5 pm
Cost: Free admission

The festival features speakers, workshops, chef demos, live music with the Culture Cafe Entertainment, kids activities, a food court and exhibitors.

Also, if you’re into travelling, or not a Midwesterner, the Vegan Voice offers a great year-long calendar of worldwide vegan events.

Hope to see you out there! Leave us a comment if you attend to tell us about your experience.