GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. — More than two decades ago, Karalyn Dorn gave her sister, Marian, a membership to the Vegetarian Society — a statewide organization founded in Denver in 1975. There wasn't, however, a chapter in Grand Junction where Marian Dorn lived — so she started one.
Members of the Vegetarian Society of Colorado, Grand Junction area branch, have met monthly for meatless potlucks ever since.
Garlicky mashed potatoes, kale soup, a spicy chickpea dish, spinach and mushroom Wellington served with mushroom gravy, were among a wide spread of vegan dishes brought to the Jan. 22 potluck held at the Lakeside Community Room in Grand Junction.
“For the New Year we required everyone to bring something new this time,” Marian Dorn, 54, said. “It's about growing, and learning new things.”
Someone who chose not to cook brought Amy's organic cakes. Another person brought fresh fruit. There was also homemade pumpernickel bread and various bean, grain and vegetable dishes made from scratch.
Vegetarians do not eat meat, poultry or fish. Vegans do not consume any animal or dairy products, including cheese, eggs and honey.
To make things simpler, members decided years ago to make the potlucks vegan to accommodate everyone.
Susan Voris, who's been attending potlucks for the past couple of years, said she likes her “butter, eggs and cheese,” but has enjoyed learning to prepare vegan foods.
“People make a lot of great stuff I've never had before,” Voris said.
Boyd Steele 74, said he used to be a “real carnivore” and loved eating at McDonalds.
“I ate like (President Bill) Clinton did before he saw the light,” said Steele, who had quadruple bypass surgery 10 years ago.
And like Clinton, Steele adopted a vegan diet for health reasons.
Steele stopped eating meat a year and a half ago after reading several books proclaiming the health benefits of a plant-based diet. He was also concerned about modern animal agriculture where cows and pigs are given antibiotic- and hormone-fortified feed, and chickens are often raised in crowded, dirty cages with no access to the sun or barnyard bugs.
“The evidence for (human) health and animal rights is intertwined. Suffering is tremendous of animals,” Steele said.
After Steele stopped eating meat, he “lost 30 pounds without even trying. It just came off,” he said. “I had to dig out my thin clothes.”
When he went for a physical six months later, both his cholesterol and blood pressure had gone down.
Annie Keohane of Paonia attended the potluck where she demonstrated how to turn zucchini into spaghetti using a vegetable spiral slicer.
Keohane teaches people from around the United States who come to her Paonia country home (plantbasedculinaryretreats.com) to learn how to prepare plant-based foods such as “whipped cream” made of cashews, and a nondairy chocolate mousse that gets its richness from avocados. She also shows people how to shop for ingredients.
At other gatherings, people have shown how to grow sprouts, or given instructions for a cleansing diet.
“We try for a theme,” Dorn said. “It's heart-healthy next month.”
After lunch Sunday, 20-year-olds Brittnee Smith and Aspen Greager, both vegans and students at Colorado Mesa University, browsed a long table full of printed materials on vegetarianism.
Smith and Greager are in the process of forming a club at the university called Veg Heads. They said they want to educate fellow students of what's involved in bringing food to the plate.
“We'll have potlucks as well, and inform people about this potluck,” Smith said. “We'll also share cooking tips, and exchange recipes.”
Sitting across from Smith and Greager at the potluck was Rhonda Dunlap, who programs a KAFM Community Radio show called “Fresh Cafe” where she interviews a variety of guests to discuss a plants-based diet, compassion for animals and environmental issues. The show airs the fourth Wednesday of the month at 12:30 p.m.
She interviewed Smith and Greager in January. Other past guests include “Mad Cowboy” Howard Lyman, and authors Dr. Michael Greger and Charlotte Gerson of the Gerson Institute.
The Denver chapter of the Vegetarian Society of Colorado will host VegFest Colorado Saturday and Sunday, July 7 and 8, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the Jefferson County Fairgrounds in Golden. The annual event includes world-renowned speakers, food cooking demonstrations, vendors, food samples, entertainment and a small farmers' market.
“It really is fun,” Dorn said. “It's well worth it.
February's Grand Junction Vegetarian Society potluck will take place Saturday, Feb. 18, at the Lakeside Community Room, 3150 Lakeside Drive. People gather at 5:30 p.m., and eat at 6 p.m.
Anyone is welcome — just make sure what you bring is vegan — and healthy.
For more information, visit www.vegetariansocietyofcolorado.org
or call [masked]
• 3.2 percent of U.S. adults, or 7.3 million people, follow a vegetarian-based diet.
• Of those approximately 0.5 percent, or 1 million, of those are vegans, who consume no animal products at all.
• 10 percent of U.S. adults, or 22.8 million people, say they largely follow a vegetarian-inclined diet.
Source: Vegetarian Times