Monday, September 17, 2012

Animal Activism!

I know I tend to only share food porn on this blog, but I do more than cook. I try to be an activist for the animals any chance I get. I co-founded a little vegetarian society — Food Awareness — in Memphis nearly nine years ago, and over those years, we have done loads of protests, demos, leafleting, and other activism for our four-legged, feathered, and finned friends.

Our biggest event every year is our booth at the Cooper-Young Festival, a super-popular arts fest in Midtown's hip Cooper-Young Historic District that attracts thousands every year. For the past two years, we've inhabited the space in front of Imagine Vegan Cafe, which seems as appropriate as can be. Hundreds of veg-curious people stop by for info on a plant-based diet, and we direct them to the cafe behind us for delicious vegan eats and cheap beer. Here's our booth:

We hand out all sorts of free brochures on veganism and factory farm cruelty:

Like at most festivals, the beer offered at beer stands is overpriced and crappy (think Bud Light ... ick!). But Imagine offers $3 bottles of craft beer from local and regional breweries (like Ghost River and Yazoo) and national breweries (like Young and Flying Dog). They always post this sign outside our tent, and it draws people of all kinds, veg-curious or not, into their vegan cafe. Come for the beer. Stay for the vegan food:

I arrived at the fest to volunteer my time in the booth around 10:30 a.m. on Saturday. And thankfully, my pal Stephanie (who bakes all of Imagine's desserts through her home-based vegan company, Swell Baked Goods) had made 16 new desserts for the occasion. I couldn't resist this soft, icing-drenched cinnamon roll:

Most years, I just talk to passersby and hand out flyers, but this year, I had another mission — sell Cookin' Crunk:

In the few hours that I was there, I sold nine copies, one to my friend Jennifer Spurr Harber, a hardcore local advocate for chickens:

Co-founder Vaughan is our main dude at Food Awareness. Without him, we wouldn't have a vegetarian society in Memphis. Vaughan dedicates endless hours to event organizing and spreading the good word. Here he is with healthy school lunch advocate Laura and a friend's kid:

I don't have a clue how many people we reached on Saturday, but I'm sure there were hundreds. I talked to countless people who stopped by the tent to ask us for info on how to give up meat and where to find vegan friends (we proudly provide friendship!). My favorite was a vegan military guy who lives on the local base. He dubbbed himself the "redneck vegan" and he was looking for like-minded friends. He took a giant stack of our flyers to hand out to his military buds. I also met some sweet ladies who were fans of the blog! Touched my heart.

In other news, my cookbook hero Joni Newman has written a glowing review of the Fried Tofu Chicken Wafflewich from Cookin' Crunk. And now she's giving away a signed copy! Check it out!


Get Skinny, Go Vegan. said...

Your book sounds great! said...

So awesome! That cinnamon roll looks amazing, Also, I <3 that purple T, where'd you get it?

Babette said...

I would walk miles to get a cinnamon roll like that. It's been years since I've had one. I think I had to make them myself, actually.

That event sounded great, Bianca. I volunteer at such events from time to time, but never with a Vegan Café behind me. What an opportunity to eat great vegan food every hour =)

I like your purple T-Shirt too!

Allysia said...

Cheap, good-quality beer is like the best lure ever. That's genius - who could say no? And hooray for the book sales! And I love positive, educational advocacy like that - so much more effective than angry protesting. Hope it was fun!

Anonymous said...

I love how you make being a vegan so fun! I recently became a vegan. It has been three months, and your book is something I am definitely interested in buying. I like how you have many options on how to make food that I never thought I could eat. The cinnamon roll looks delicious, and the beer sounds great too. I love hearing about vegan restaurants; i wish there were more of them out there. Great job advocating for what you believe in, and showing the world that being vegan is not only good for human health and the planet, but the food tastes amazing as well.

Angela W. said...

Redneck Vegan, I love it! Just proves that people with all different backgrounds and upbringings CAN be vegan!
That cinnamon roll looks to die for!
I wish I would've known more about the Memphis vegan scene when I took a trip down there ~6 or 7 yrs ago.
Congrats on your book!

Des said...

Im so jealous! That cinny roll looks freaking incredible!

Rachel from The Vegan Mishmash said...

That's awesome! I love reading about your advocacy efforts. Definitely keep posting about what Food Awareness is up to. And I want that cinnamon roll!

Adi said...

Ahh it all sounds so fun! I'd love to do something like that someday as well. Animal activism is huge here in Los Angeles, but its hard to find some that actually relate to your views. Hahah
Congrats on selling nine books by the way! Oh, and that cinnamon roll looks so delicious! It seriously made my tummy grumble!

tender b. said...

Loved the booth. Loved the cinnamon bun even more. Whoa!

Jenny said...

Fun! I finally got to hit up Imagine Cafe last weekend as we were coming through Memphis last minute. Swell's dessserts were really great.

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