The History of VegOut NYC

VegOut started in December 1994 with a Winter Solstice potluck at the LGBT Center, with 33 people in attendance. Alex Fisher and Ross Howard started the group after attending NAVS' Vegetarian Summerfest in July and feeling marginalized as queer vegans among all the families. (They loved the babies, hated the LGBT invisibility!) When they talked about it later, they found they'd both been pondering a group like VegOut for some time but hadn't felt ready to start it on their own. Together (and with help from many friends), they were able to make it happen.

At first they had potlucks and picnics every couple of months, hand-drawing VegOut flyers and putting them up at the Center and veggie restaurants. Soon they found they had a mailing list and people wanted to meet regularly. Sometime in 1995 or 1996 they chose to hold the potlucks the fourth Sunday of every month, where they stayed until April 2009, when the group began to meet the third Sunday instead. But no matter which Sunday they've fallen on, the potlucks have been going since the beginning--sometimes strong, sometimes with teeny-tiny groups, but always there!

After a while, someone suggested that the group visit restaurants as well, and so the monthly VegOuting was born. (Ross, by the way, came up with the group name and that variation.) Anyone can host a VegOuting; just let us know which restaurant you want to go to before we make up our quarterly schedule, handle the restaurant reservation and commit to being there when folks arrive. We love sharing at VegOut!

Probably the most special VegOut event of the year is our Thanksgiving/Family Day Potluck. For queer vegetarians, major family holidays can be a double whammy. First, there may be uneasiness over sexual or gender orientation--whether you're newly out or have been living openly with your partner for a quarter of a century. Then to top it off, everyone celebrates by gathering around a dead animal and eating it and wondering why you're so "weird" because you don't eat flesh. At our potluck, you can love whom you love, and there's nothing but delicious vegan food covering our table. For many of us, it reminds us why the LGBT community is so often referred to as "family"!

In January 2005 we celebrated VegOut's 10th anniversary. It was so much fun! We had cake, balloons and Mylar, and--as always--delicious food made by everyone who attended. In February of that year we became a Meetup group--making it so much easier to organize events and share information about VegOut!

VegOut has been coordinated by several different people throughout the years. Their work and support has been invaluable. We'd like to thank Carol Moon and Carl Navarro & Israel Fishman for being general organizers during the '90s. We were saddened to hear of Israel's passing in 2007. Roseann Marulli took over as organizer in March 2009, when Alex and her partner, Lee Whittaker, decided to move to Rhode Island. (While we were incredibly sad to see them go, we were also very excited to see what this new chapter in their life would yield--for starters, VegOut Rhode Island!) In January 2010, Roseann moved to south Florida to begin a new chapter in her life as well as bring her activist spirit to an underserved state. Jim Allen became organizer in February 2010 after being inspired by his experience at Vegetarian Summerfest (just like our founders!). Jeanne Mellon coordinated our VegOutings for a long time and continues to host our potluck picnics in Central Park. Judy Amack was our faithful treasurer until March 2009. P.D. Kaltenbach took care of our e-mail and listserv for several years after our charter member and beloved friend David Ben-Ami died, in 2000. Nola just completed hosting our potlucks for three years at the Center - an impressive and dedicated tenure. As of April 2012 our potlucks are a go go as the event moves around the five boroughs for the next twelve months. John Harper is the webmaster of our separate (and beautiful!) site: www.vegoutnyc.org.

In all, VegOut has always been a cooperative effort. (Try to imagine a potluck with only one dish! Even if all you do is join us and bring something to share, you've enriched our experience as a group.)

Some last few thoughts to share... We've always wanted VegOut to be as inclusive as possible. That's why we're described as being for LGBT vegetarians, vegans "AND FRIENDS." We joke (half-seriously) that only homophobes and hunters are not welcome. Another way of being inclusive was to choose to never turn anyone away because of inability to pay. While we do rely on everyone's contributions to cover our expenses ($5 if you bring a dish to one of the potlucks, $12 without), the few times that someone just didn't have it has never put us out of commission.

We also emphasize that we're a social group. Some members may be animal rights activists or have strict health regimens, and they have very clear ideas about vegetarianism. We try to honor everyone's reason for joining the group and recognize that some people are just beginning to explore a plant-based diet. Our goal is to make ALL members feel welcome. While we avoid censoring anyone, we try to steer clear of preaching or criticizing when two people don't see things the same way.

Table of Contents

Page title Most recent update Last edited by
Animal Advocacy Organizations August 2, 2009 9:52 AM Roseann
Our Sponsors June 1, 2009 11:57 AM Roseann
How Green Is My Potluck? April 18, 2012 10:19 AM Jim
The History of VegOut NYC April 18, 2012 10:18 AM Jim
About VegOut NYC April 18, 2012 10:11 AM Jim

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