Letter: Takeaways from VeganFest

Graphic by Lori Deaton

In the afterglow of Brother Wolf Animal Rescue’s amazing three-day VeganFest earlier this month and based as well on my own tracking of the “veganisphere” more broadly, a couple things stand out to me. For starters, it seems the frontiers of veganism in the U.S. are being pushed these days by three groups: 1. Young kids and teenagers, who are easily among the most articulate, passionate voices and committed activists around; 2. athletes of the most rigorous kind, as in endurance athletes, NFL players and Olympic gold medalists; and 3. African-Americans,  including many in the first two categories (young people and athletes), plus high-profile celebrities and regular folks.

What touches me deeply is that those we heard from at the festival were vegans not only for health reasons or competitive athletics, but also for the animals. Research shows that people who are “ethical vegans,” namely, out of compassion for other living beings, are the ones who stick with it for a lifetime.

Another standout at the Fest for me was Dr. Garth Davis, medical director of Mission Hospital’s Weight Management Center. If you want a voice who is both accessible and nerdy to the extent that he is informed by many hundreds of reputable studies on the impact of diet on our health — and no, not those paid for by the meat, dairy and poultry industries! — he’s your man.

We also saw promising early signs of … cooperation across diverse social-change movements. Animal welfare attorney Jay Shooster detailed how a number of leading human rights advocacy groups in the U.S. have adopted a vegetarian or vegan policy for their events. As renowned New York University law professor Margaret Satterthwaite wrote to him: “The human rights community is beginning to recognize that our solidarity must extend to embrace not only all people, but also animals, the Earth and our environment.”

Lest you think this shift is happening only in Asheville (keepin’ it weird) or even just the U.S., be assured that vegan associations, new vegan foods and other products, and eateries are springing up in every corner of the globe.

The (r)evolutionary train has definitely left the station. Hop on board!

— Cynthia Sampson


Thanks for reading through to the end…

We share your inclination to get the whole story. For the past 25 years, Xpress has been committed to in-depth, balanced reporting about the greater Asheville area. We want everyone to have access to our stories. That’s a big part of why we've never charged for the paper or put up a paywall.

We’re pretty sure that you know journalism faces big challenges these days. Advertising no longer pays the whole cost. Media outlets around the country are asking their readers to chip in. Xpress needs help, too. We hope you’ll consider signing up to be a member of Xpress. For as little as $5 a month — the cost of a craft beer or kombucha — you can help keep local journalism strong. It only takes a moment.

About Letters
We want to hear from you! Send your letters and commentary to letters@mountainx.com

Before you comment

The comments section is here to provide a platform for civil dialogue on the issues we face together as a local community. Xpress is committed to offering this platform for all voices, but when the tone of the discussion gets nasty or strays off topic, we believe many people choose not to participate. Xpress editors are determined to moderate comments to ensure a constructive interchange is maintained. All comments judged not to be in keeping with the spirit of civil discourse will be removed and repeat violators will be banned. See here for our terms of service. Thank you for being part of this effort to promote respectful discussion.

7 thoughts on “Letter: Takeaways from VeganFest

  1. think critically

    Regarding the environmental benefits of plant-based diets, the most comprehensive analysis to date on the damage farming does to the planet, “The Global Impacts of Food Production,” was recently published in the journal Science. The conclusion? The headline from the Guardian says it all: “Avoiding meat and dairy is ‘single biggest way’ to reduce your impact on earth.” For those who believe in science and have open minds, here is a link to the article: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/may/31/avoiding-meat-and-dairy-is-single-biggest-way-to-reduce-your-impact-on-earth

    Forbes also ran a story, likewise noting, “a vegan diet is the single biggest way to reduce your impact on earth. Buying an electric car, lowering your thermostat, and taking quick showers all pale in comparison to simply eating less meat and dairy.”

    The research also shatters the myth that grass-fed beef is an ecologically-friendly choice, noting it has a much higher impact on the planet than plant-based foods.

    Sadly, this huge scientific study was mostly ignored by the media., when it should be on every front page.

  2. boatrocker

    I still maintain along with a scientific consensus that over-population is
    the single biggest environmental threat. Ever heard of Malthusian Carrying Capacity or
    the 3 Earth theory?

    If given the choice between hanging around with preachy vegan parents/shrieky un-attended veganspawn toddlers or people my age who have never reproduced, it’s going to be with those who have no kids.

    I challenge every vegan to adopt a child and a dog and yes I tried a vegan diet for a week and felt like doo doo for it.

    • Jay Reese

      Of course you are going to feel different after changing your diet, that discomfort is a good thing. Vegan kids are no more annoying than meat eaters and sharing your views about your diet is not preaching. Maybe the reason all you meater get upset at the mention of veganism is because you know deep down inside you are harming innocent animals for your gastronomic delights.

      • boatrocker

        “Meater” eh? Claaaassy.
        And all these years I called myself an omnivore.
        Extremist hate much?

        I guarantee I could out cook you at any omnivore,
        vegetarian or vegan dinner party with no formal
        training. Glove being thrown down here like
        the competitive cooking shows where the
        chef screams at everyone.

        What’s the worst thing about being a vegan?
        Realizing how small an extremist circle of friends
        is for hosting a dinner party.
        Too many to play Scrabble but not enough for
        Trivial Pursuit.

        • boatrocker

          Ohhhh I got one more!
          I’ve been shamed and oppressed for
          eating food substance/carbon based life form
          that our binocular vision and sharp incisors evolved
          in order to secure caloric consumption. I felt so sad and ashamed and I vow to remain an empowered and independent omnivore.


          Honestly vegans, do you think any consumer of meat
          only eats steaks, quarter pounders and chicken mcwhatevertheymakethemoutof?

          • Jay Reese

            The only thing I hate is ignorance. Eat meat if you want just know that your food choice has consequences.

  3. boatrocker

    Mr. Reese, if you have reproduced vs. adopting, you have actively participated in the single most awful thing humans can do to the environment. Strip it of all resources for over-population.
    Ignorance indeed.

    The 3 Earth Theory states that if every person (7.4 ish billion now?) lived like those who only ate kale and vegan dishes in a restaurant that have to be shipped here via internal combustion vehicles, grown by Grapes of Wrath- like exploited workers who can’t afford to eat what they grow, if you wear tacky lycra outfits to ride a $2000 bicycle to your favorite café to buy a $6 dollar coffee etc,
    Then we would need 3 planet Earths to sustain us all
    for the amount of resources smug demands.
    Your farts obviously don’t smell.

Leave a Reply

To leave a reply you may Login with your Mountain Xpress account, connect socially or enter your name and e-mail. Your e-mail address will not be published. All fields are required.