BY JULIE GRAY
If you’re among those who imagine that vegans lead tofu-based lives of quiet desperation, one way to dispel those illusions is to attend a potluck held by BloomingVeg. This 5-year-old nonprofit advocacy group for vegetarians, vegans, and veggie-lovers encourages compassion for animals through the consumption of a (delicious) plant-based diet.
BloomingVeg’s bimonthly potlucks, which typically draw 15 to 30 people, are organized around themes. Examples include pizza, holiday cookies, and tacos and nachos. The potlucks are intended to be a fun way to learn more about different dietary choices, such as the distinction between vegetarians—who don’t eat meat, poultry, or fish—and vegans, who avoid all animal products, including dairy and eggs.
One frequent potluck guest is Amber Buening, the 30-year-old BloomingVeg board member who represents the group to its nonprofit sponsor, the Center for Sustainable Living. “You can actually be healthy and eat vegan” is the reassurance Buening offers skeptics. “People think you’re sacrificing, but nowadays there are so many different things on the market: vegan ice creams, mock meat,” she says. “People don’t realize how easy it is.”
Jessika Griffin, 27, an event planner and community organizer, manages BloomingVeg’s social media presence, offering news, photos, and plenty of resources and links, including a vegetarian and vegan dining guide to Bloomington. The BloomingVeg Facebook group has 500 followers, and about 300 people check the dining guide each month, Griffin says.
On social media, BloomingVeg members celebrate new vegan delicacies like the Impossible Burger that Bloomingfoods West recently began offering. It is famous for so closely resembling beef that it “bleeds.” Another cause for elation: the vegan soft-serve ice cream at Jiffy Treat West, in Ellettsville.
BloomingVeg also organizes group outings, like trips to Uplands PEAK, Indiana’s first farmed animal sanctuary. And it engages in gentle persuasion at events like Bloomington PRIDE Summerfest. The group has recently printed cards stating “I ate here because you serve vegan options. Thank you.” for members to leave along with their checks at restaurants.
To learn more visit bloomingveg.org.