“Anyone who is curious at all about healthier eating or ‘what does a vegan eat,’ or anyone who is slightly open to being exposed to something different than the status quo would be great,” says Coarsegold resident Kimberly Thompson, who started the potluck. She’s been vegan for nearly a decade and was a vegetarian before that.
“I love hosting the group because it’s important to me to make a difference in the world, and bringing new information to people so they can make kinder and healthier choices is a way I can do that. The people are great and meeting new people or connecting with folks with similar values and interests helps make community and feels good.”
The growing gathering meets up at the Oakhurst Library in the Community Room, on the third Monday of the month at 5:45 p.m.. The vegan potluck is usually followed by a presentation — the group may watch a video, listen to a talk, or have a demo. They’ve also joined up for outings including dinner and a visit to a farm sanctuary.
For the purposes of these dinners, the dishes contain no animal products whatsoever, including meat, egg, cheese, milk, yogurt, butter and honey.
“Initially I thought it’d be hard to eat vegan, but in reality the food choices have opened up tremendously. The food is delicious and I’ve taken quite an interest in cooking since becoming vegan, but the best part of being vegan is living my values of kindness and compassion.”
Kimberly started the dinners in April of 2017 in honor of Earth Day, for a multitude of reasons.
“Because making a positive difference in the world is what I want to do, and animals and the environment are my passion: bringing information about veganism and ways to shift food choices to folks was something I needed to do.”
In her experience, being vegan or vegetarian or transitioning to that lifestyle can feel isolating — though she notes that about one-third of the NFL Tennessee Titans football team has recently adopted the practice.
“There aren’t a lot of vegans in the world, although there are more and more. So I wanted to create community for vegans to come together and be able to connect with others.”
Another of Kimberly’s intentions is to educate people about the benefits of the practice.
“For folks who are interested, or even open a little bit to shifting their food choices, I wanted to create a place they could come and get information, ask questions, get support or resources, or to know they aren’t alone, and that it’s really not hard to shift up your food to be healthier, more environmentally friendly — animal agriculture is the number one polluter to the environment — and kinder to the other creatures we share the world with.
“Most of us never really question our food choices, and I wanted to create an avenue for sharing information which may not be so readily available.”
“Truly anyone who has a willingness to learn something new may truly enjoy our potluck meetings. Anyone with heart disease, diabetes and other chronic conditions so common in America could be exposed to new ideas for helping with their health issues, and lots of folks who are already regulars to the lifestyle can share information. I’d really like to attract the animal lovers of the community, and see environmentalists join us and start to see the connection between what we eat and the environmental impact of it.”
Going on a year after the first meeting, the vegan potluck is going strong, say those who’ve been.
“We seem to now have a core group of people coming as well as new folks each month. Our gatherings range from about 15 to as many as 38 folks coming out to share a meal and information. All are welcome, newcomers don’t need to bring a vegan dish to the potluck, just come and enjoy. It’s free and it’s fun and it’s a great group of kind, energized people.”
The Monthly Potluck night on the third Monday of the month at 5:45 p.m., with the next planned for Monday, Jan. 15, in the Community Room at the Oakhurst Branch Library.
For more information, go to: Meatless Mondays and Beyond
And check out: Yosemite Vegans on Facebook
Here’s a recipe, courtesy of Kimberly:
Ginger Peanut Soup
3 cup chopped broccoli
3 cups chopped cauliflower
1 medium onion chopped
1 Tbsp ginger minced
3 cloves garlic minced
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
water or broth for sauting
3 cups vegetable broth or water (I use broth)
1 28 oz can diced tomatoes
5 Tbsp peanut butter (natural and crunchy is best)
Use a large pot to make the soup
Saute the onions in water until soft. Add other veggies, ginger, garlic, cayenne pepper,salt, and pepper until veggies are just tender ( a few minutes). Add broth, canned tomatoes, and peanut butter – mix well. Bring to a simmer and simmer for 20 minutes or so. Enjoy.