8/27 – Movie “The Animals Film”

animalsfilmJulie Christie narrates a study of cruelty to animals in labs, farming, the military, the fur trade, hunting, the pet food industry. The movie has a Kalamazoo connection, and one of its experts, Roger Ulrich, will be present at the showing and available for Q&A. Hosted by Laurie Oldfather, who encourages people to bring vegan finger foods to share. (She’ll provide drinks, as well as plates and utensils.) (Address is same street as Portage Central HS…south from Bacon. OK to park on front lawn if necessary.)

RSVP at our Meetup or Facebook pages.

7/16 – Summer Bonfire / BBQ!

bonfireimageJoin Vegan Kalamazoo for a fun, summer bonfire and barbeque! Vegan Kalamazoo events are a great place to meet like-minded people as well as catch up with old friends. Hope to see you there.

When: Thursday, July 16th 7:30 pm

Home of Katia Burke-Pappas
9559 Autumnwood Circle, Kalamazoo, Mi 49009
Directions only: samoekatia@hotmail.com (NOT for RSVP; see below)

Campfire Menu (All Vegan!)

  • Smart dogs and buns
  • Condiments: Mustard, ketchup, relish, hummus
  • Baked beans
  • Vegan S’Mores: Graham crackers, Dandies marshmallows, Justin’s dark peanut butter cups and assorted dark chocolate
  • Soda stream pop or flavored water
  • Sangria

What You Can Bring:

  • Lawn chair(s)
  • Sticks for roasting hotdogs/marshmallows
  • Any vegan food you would like to share
  • Bathing suit if you want to jump in the hot tub

RSVP to join the fun!

7/14 – Book Club: The Oxen at the Intersection by pattrice jones

Come one, come all, to what promises to be a unique and fantastic book club meeting. We’ll be reading pattrice jones’s The Oxen at the Intersection, and the author herself will be joining us via Skype.

Here’s Vegan Kalamazoo cofounder Hillary Rettig’s summary and review of the book (from Amazon):

oxen at the intersection“I’d give this book 10 stars if I could. It reads like the best mystery novel, only the events it describes are all true. It’s full of vivid descriptions of people, places, and motives; fascinating buried histories; and razor-sharp interpretations of a series of events that became internationally notorious, all told by someone who was at the center of it all.

“You might have heard of the plight of the Green Mountain College oxen. GMC (in Vermont) was experimenting with 19th century forms of agriculture, and used two elderly oxen, Bill and Lou, for plowing and other farm tasks. Bill and Lou were college and town mascots, supposedly beloved by all, until one day, Lou sustained a (relatively minor) injury and the college decided that both of the “beloved” oxen should be slaughtered and served up in the student cafeteria. (I am absolutely not kidding.)

“jones, who runs a sanctuary for farmed animals, offered Bill and Lou a retirement home at no cost to the College, but college administrators perversely declined–and kept declining other reasonable offers, despite local and international pleas for mercy. They were determined to kill the oxen, and eventually Lou disappeared under cover of night–presumably slaughtered, but no one knows how or what happened to his body.

pattrice jones“Why the College, which relentlessly claimed the moral high ground, chose to act in the “dead of night” like a criminal, I’ll let you decide for yourself.

“jones tells you the facts of the case in measured prose, trusting the inherent power of the story to manifest itself–which it does. When, starting halfway through the book, she gives you her interpretation of the various forces that conspired to “overdetermine” poor Lou’s death, you realize you have the rare privilege of witnessing a first rate mind at work. I learned so much from her analysis, and will be a better person and activist because of it.

“There is so much more I could praise–the book’s integrity and bravery, for one. But I’ll stop here. If you’re interested enough to have read this review you should just go ahead and buy the book.”

The Kalamazoo Library has copies of the book to lend, so get yours now. See you at the club!

Date / Time: Tuesday, July 14, 7:00 – 9:00 p.m. (7:00 – 8:00 discussion; 8:00 – 8:45 pattrice joins us)

Where: Kalamazoo Public Library Main Branch, Board Room

RSVP:  Our Meetup page.

Vegan Kalamazoo at Peace Pizzazz and Circus Pages Protest

Chris at Peace Pizzazz

Chris at Peace Pizzazz

Hey VK fans! I hope you are doing well and I am so excited to tell you about what Vegan Kalamazoo has been up to this past weekend! To start off, we were invited to table at the 7th Annual Peace Pizzazz, a festival for children, teens and adults aimed at promoting the Golden Rule (treat others how you want to be treated) and advocating for peace in the Kalamazoo community. We were there extending that argument to treating all sentient beings how we want to be treated.

We had a “name that fruit matching activity” and coloring sheets for the children, along with information on how to make the transition to a plant based diet for teens and adults. We answered thought provoking questions from the attendees such as, “I look pretty healthy (He did) and have been eating meat so how would you pitch me to go Vegan?” (Awesome question!) to which I responded, “The golden rule. If we don’t wish to be killed, eaten and/or held captive, then how can we support those who do that to animals by purchasing animal products?” We were also questioned about a recipe for Vegan Gumbo and found one in the Betty Goes Vegan cookbook. After visiting some of the other booths and watching the peace focused music and art performances, I feel confident that the next generation of adults growing out of this community will be more peaceful, empathetic and kind than mine.

Peace Pizzazz was organized wonderfully despite having to change location last minute due to rainy weather and we look forward to attending next year! We hope would love to share more about this event at our Vegan Potluck on June 11 2015.

Chris at the Circus Protest

Chris at the Circus Protest

The following day, we were a part of the circus protest organized by the Kalamazoo Animal Liberation League (KALL) at the Kalamazoo County Expo Center and Fairgrounds. Circus Pages was promoted as a fun and entertaining event for the family, however these type of shows are far from fun for the animals, who are often mistreated and beaten in order to learn the “tricks” they are forced to perform for the crowd. They are constantly in fear, held in small cages, and transported across the country against their will. This is the equivalent of slave labor and we wanted to attendees to be reminded of this.

As I arrived at the fairgrounds, I drove by the area where numerous animals including camels, elephants, tigers and giraffes were outside and unprotected in 50 degree rainy weather. Most of them generally looked miserable and it looked very unnatural to see them in that state. I felt even more encouraged by this and was proud to be a voice for animals who cannot speak for themselves. The number of people attending each show was around 120 and fellow veteran protesters from KALL said that this was the lowest number of attendees they had seen at the fairgrounds for circus. We are happy to announce that we were able to reduce this number even more due to our efforts! At least 10 cars of people did not attend the event after they drove by our protest at the main entrance. Many even thanked us for being out there and were happy to not attend the circus. This was the best part! To know that we helped reduce the profits of Circus Pages helps to give them an indication that what they are doing is cruel, unwanted, and should be stopped immediately.

Group shot of protesters

Group shot of protesters

Veteran and rookie protesters stood together for over two hours, and we were so proud of everyone for coming out! We want to extend a huge thank you to everyone who attended! Be sure to join the Vegan Kalamazoo Meetup Group to keep updated on events like this. We would love to have you participate with us!

Chris Hendrickson
Vegan Kalamazoo

Early Summer Events: A Little Pizzazz!

We’ll be announcing some new summer events shortly, but in the meantime please put these on your calendar:

PeacePizzazzBanner 1) Saturday, May 30, noon – 4:00 p.m. Vegan Kalamazoo will be tabling at the Peace Pizzazz festival in Bronson Park, spreading the peaceful vegan message to kids and families. Please stop by, and if you’d like to help out, email Chris.

2) Tuesday, July 14, 7:00 – 9:00 p.m. The Vegan Kalamazoo Book Club meets at the Kalamazoo Public Library main branch. We’re reading The Oxen at the Intersection by pattrice jones. This is an amazing, fantastic, fun book by one of our movement’s top writers and thinkers, and pattrice herself will be participating via Skype. More info shortly, but in the meantime you can get your copy at the Library or any bookseller.

Everyone, including vegans, vegetarians, omnivores, and the veg-curious, is invited to all Vegan Kalamazoo events. Hope to see you soon!

Marathon and Dog Walk Report

Lots of great news and happenings to report! Vegan Kalamazoo tabled at the Marathon and the Dog Walk, so thousands more people now know that, yes, there really is a vegan Kalamazoo!

The most exciting things were:

marathonoriginal-edited1) The many surprised and happy shout-outs we got from vegan-friendly runners at the Marathon. And,

2) The fact that we were one of three animal rights / animal welfare organizations tabling at the Dog Walk. Also present were All Species Kinship, who brought along Rosa, an adorable rescued “spokeschicken” for compassionate living, and the Michigan chapter of the Humane Society of the United States, which does phenomenal work advocating for all sorts of animals.

When people see three booths advocating for compassionate living, our cause no longer looks fringe, but part of a powerful movement that is becoming more and more mainstream.

So, how do you like our new tee shirts? (Modeled by Hillary and Nathan Poirier, who organized the recent excellent Rewilding Conference at Aquinas College.) We’re selling them for $20–if you’d like one, email Hillary and she’ll arrange to get it to you. Remember that tee shirts, buttons, bumper stickers, letters to the editor, and other public expressions of veganism are fantastic activism! Speaking of which….

If you haven’t checked out VeganKalamazoo.com, lately, you might want to. Our Restaurants and Food Stores section now includes many great options, and we’ve also got some Vegan Neighbors for you to meet. (If you have a food entry or correction, or would like to be featured on our Neighbors page, please email Hillary.

5/2 and 5/16 – Next “Living Vegan” Get-Togethers

The Living Vegan social hour/discussion group is where we come together informally for fun times and fun discussions. Need a recipe? A vegan fashion tip? Tips for dealing with nonvegan family/friends? You’ll get it all at Living Vegan!

Living Vegan currently meets

  • The first and third Saturday mornings of each month at 9:30 – 11:30 a.m. at the Fourth Coast Cafe in Kalamazoo. (Next meetings May 2 and May 16.) And,
  • The fourth Monday evening of each month at 7:00 – 9:00 p.m. at Jac’s Cekola’s Pizza in Portage. (NO MEETING May 25 – Memorial Day)

You’re welcome to attend any “Living Vegan” event! RSVP requested in advance – please email Laurie Oldfather .

Vegan Kalamazoo Attends Michigan VegFest 2015

On April 19th, 2015, I attended my first ever Michigan VegFest (Vegan Tastefest & Expo) with Hillary, Jan and new friend Nathan at Suburban Collection Showcase in Novi Michigan. Over 50 vendors and 1,500 people (Correction: 100 vendors and 6500 attendees according to Jim Corcoran from VegMichigan, Thanks!) came to advocate plant-based diets and show off their amazing and fascinating businesses. “VegFest has been going on since 1998 … and was happy to receive an audience of 50 people during the first year” claimed Jeff Hampton, a Director of Vegfest, in between presentations from well known Vegan activists including Anya Todd, Gene Baur, Alicia Silverstone and Jane Velez- Mitchell.  This event has grown tremendously over the past 18 years and is now the largest single day event of its kind in the entire country.

This write-up will detail my first hand experience at VegFest with people, vendors and speakers during my time there.


After driving two hours from Kalamazoo we finally arrived at the expo center. Being that I have never attended an event like this before, I was unsure about how many people were set to be there. To my surprise and joy, the parking lot was packed. Like, very packed. We had to walk about three football fields just to get to the entrance from our car and as we were getting to the door, I began to get that excited feeling one gets right before they are about to experience something truly special. I described this as the feeling one gets as they enter a music festival (to each, their own). We walk into a crowded entrance way and made our way to purchase tickets. Entrance was simple and organized with volunteers handing out paper schedules with maps of the floor and a Whole Foods bag to place your goodies or swag into. The smell of food and free handouts filled the air.

IMG_0003I started in a clockwise path around the vendors, weaving through the masses of people. To my left were people receiving massages from a massage clinic and to my right were many booths selling Vegan T-Shirts or shorts with phrases like “I <3 vegan boys” or “Plant Eater” with a very cool picture of a gorilla. I make my way to the back where I got my first taste of many vegan options available. Red Pepper Deli, a company from Northville, Michigan, focuses on raw, organic, vegan food and although their permanent shop has closed, they still are accepting food orders via email at foodie076@gmail.com. I ordered the raw vegan taco and was blown away by how good it tasted. The fake meat filling was perfectly spiced and the fresh made salsa added the perfect accent to sprouts and romaine lettuce. I ultimately ended up mixing it all together and eating it like a salad although I was told to use the lettuce at the holder smh.

I struck up conversation at the table I was eating at with another VegFest attendee who also had driven two hours to be there. Attendee claimed it was his fourth year attending and this was the largest crowd he had seen. We made some more small talk, I thanked him for the conversation and proceeded to my first lecture. I was about to see Alicia Silverstone, celebrated actress and animal rights, environmental activist according to Vegfest’s website. FYI, Silverstone was in the movies Clueless and Batman & Robin. I see a line to the presentation hall and try to enter another way but to no avail. The room was packed with no standing room to be seen. Being that I had no idea who she was, I decided to check out some more exhibitors.

Enter, human version of a gestation cage brought in by IMG_0020The Humane Society of the United States. This cage came all the way from New Jersey I was told. For those uninformed, a gestation cage is an enclosure made from metal which restricts a sow’s (pig) movement to the point that they cannot turn around to ensure that profitability of the animal is maximized. These ridiculously small enclosures are where the sows spend their ENTIRE LIFE OF FOUR YEARS, I repeat, THEIR ENTIRE LIVES!!! This is incredibly disturbing and I got the chance to experience four minutes inside the human comparable enclosure. As I stepped in, I admittedly was enjoying myself and trying not to smile from the novelty of the exhibit and the attention I was receiving. As the seconds pasted, the novelty quickly wore off and I began to experience claustrophobia and the need to get the heck out of that enclosure. Every time I moved my head, my glasses hit the metal bars. I could not move an inch forward or backward but did have lateral movement although it was only a few inches on each side. Three minutes and thirty seconds went by before I got anxious and asked how long. “Thirty seconds” replies the person running the exhibit. I am ready to GTFO of that enclosure by this point and exhale a huge sigh of relief when the cage unlatched and I gain the freedom of motion back. I will never eat pork again to begin with but especially now that I have experienced a fraction of what millions of sows live with daily. Just saddening and disgusting what factory farms do.

IMG_0002I regain my composure, chat with some folks who watched me inside the cage then make my way back to the exhibits. Back to the happy. I got to taste vegan fudge for the first time from The Sweet Kind and it had been at least three years since the last time I had fudge so I was super excited. As I put the sample on my tongue and feel it melt in my mouth, I about melted into my shoes as it tasted so good. A moment of bliss in a vegan wonderland is how I describe my experience with The Sweet Kind at VegFest. I collect myself, thank them and move to the next area. I scan the booths looking for one that specifically interest me and land on the SMART booth where people can watch a horrific video on animal cruelty in IMG_0001exchange for one dollar US. SMART stands for Southeastern Animal Rights Team and these people were the real deal! Having heard about this type of incentive-based education activism, I wanted to experience it myself, back to sad (sorry). I am handed headphones and placed behind a laptop where I proceed to watch four minutes and 26 second of horrific abuse to animals that occur pretty normally in the factory farm industry. I hold down my vomit and disgust to make it through and sadly collect my dollar which was neatly placed in a “Why Vegan” handout. I thank them and walk to my next activity, Gene Baur’s lecture.

Gene Baur (@genebaur), President of Farm Sanctuary, an organization which provides a safe place for rescued farm animals to go, was set to speak at 2pm. Baur was just featured on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart where he provided an absolutely wonderful exchange of conversation about veganism to the total of Daily Show viewers so I was particularly excited to hear him speak live. I stayed for about 30 minutes listening to him speak on compassion, empathy and the indoctrination which occurs in academia regarding “standard” farming practices such as ear clipping and tail removal of pigs. These abuses are done without the use of anesthesia BTW.  The indoctrination I speak of is in regards to the initial disgust that the students experienced while watching these practices done by the professor for the first time. Being “good” Cornell students who want passing marks, they blindly followed the prof’s lead and Baur explained how he watched the empathy and compassion drain from the group as they all began to participate in the practice.

IMG_0015I heard much of what I already knew and grew bored so I dipped out to speak with more attendees and eat some more food. This led me to Earthen Jar which is a restaurant in Ann Arbor, Michigan that I highly recommend going to. I think I ordered the Alu Bhaji which is a spicy masala potato, Nan, and some basmati rice with green beans, peas, corn and some spices. All was amazing and I ended up trading the rest of my Alu Bhaji to the person dining next to me for half a vegan chili dog with onions and mustard which was surprisingly similar to a traditional chili dog, mediocre and sloppy. Ah the memories come rushing back…

Before watching the final presenter, I learned about a sweet company that makes vegan belts out of wasted conveyor belt scraps from local manufacturing plants called HELD Gear and a wonderful organization which provides safe haven for horses if owners can no longer care for them called Michigan Horse Welfare Coalition. MHWC even runs a Hay Bank which is comparable to a food bank so owners can feed their horses even in times of economic distress. Awesome job you two!!!


Lastly, I watched a lecture from Jane Velez – Mitchell (@JVM) who gave a very locally relevant speech about how Detroit was once the last place for those taking the Underground Railroad before they found freedom in Canada during the legalized slavery era in the United States. Velez-Mitchell roused the crowd making comparisons between the courage that it took to be the first to stand up for social justice in the times of slavery to the courage that it takes to stand up for animal rights and welfare today where factory farms are perfectly legal and good in the eyes of the US Gov. Velez – Mitchell spoke with the vigor and boisterousness of a politician trying to lobby for some cause they had already been paid off to support.

IMG_0022In my opinion, she gave the best speech of the VegFest although I unfortunately missed Anya Todd, a licensed dietician in Cleveland who focuses on veganism, speak before we had arrived. Velez – Mitchell ended on the note that we must all become our own media and advocate veganism and animal rights to anyone who will listen as the standard media outlets have historically blacked out animal rights protests from the general public. It should be noted that no major media outlets were reporting on this event when she asked if they were there. This message resonated strongly within me, hence why I am writing this.

As the VegFest ended, I became very excited to start this article and advocate what a wonderful, fantastic, amazing, great, inspiring and informational experience the 2015 Michigan VegFest was. Shout out to VegMichigan for organizing this event and to every single one of the people attending!! The most diverse group of people I have ever been a part of was at this event. People from all walks of life and all ages were there to share one common thing; we all care about our health, the planet, the animals on this planet and each other. I struck up conversations, shared food, ideas and pleasantries with complete strangers who I now consider loosely to be friends. VegFest created an atmosphere where I could connect and meet with people who share similar ideals and values which sets the stage for amazing and positive change to occur. Veganism is on the rise and if this expo is an indicator of future growth, it is going to be the majority in a few decades or sooner. I cannot wait to help bring that future into the now.

-Chris Hendrickson (@c12hendrickson)


5/3 – We’ll Be Having a Blast at the Kzoo Marathon!

Vegan Kalamazoo has a terrific location for its hydration table at the Kalamazoo Marathon. We’ll be at Mile 19, right inside the entrance to Verberg Park, off Gull Road. We’ll be tabling alongside Central High School’s Honor Society, and right next to the “Gummy Bear Trail” where dozens of students will be handing out Gummy Bears* to the runners. So we’re going to have a great time, and also have the opportunity to model joyful, fun, cool veganism to lots of high school students.

The Marathon is Sunday, May 3, and we’ll be tabling from 7:45 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. – please join us for all or part of that time. We’ll be handing out water to the runners, cheering them on, and generally having a blast–all while promoting joyful veganism. Email Hillary if you can volunteer, and please stop by even if you can’t. More info on the run here. Parking info here.

*Gummy Bears are sometimes vegan, sometimes not. The nonvegan ones contain gelatin, which is made from bones, hooves, and other yukky stuff. The No Meat Athlete has a good article on this, and lots of other good information for vegan running.

5/2 – Tabling at Kalamazoo Humane Society Dog Walk and K9 Festival

why-love-one-but-eat-the-other-puppy-piglet-dog-porkWe’ll be tabling at one of our favorite events, the Kalamazoo Humane Society Dog Walk and K9 Festival, where we hope to introduce Kazoo’s many dog lovers to the joys of compassionate, plant-based living.

We’ll also be asking the pertinent question, “Why love one and eat the other?”

Date: Saturday, May 5

Time: 9 a.m. – 2 p.m.

Location: Prairie View County Park, 899 E U Ave., Vicksburg, MI (see below map)

Fee: Check event page.

If you’re attending, please stop by. We’re hoping to have coupons and samples of vegan dog foods.

If you’d like to help out at the table, email Hillary.

Venue Map