If I had to choose one of the toughest parts of adopting a vegan lifestyle, it wouldn’t be giving up certain foods or products….for me that was one of the easiest parts! Once I made the connection between my health and the feelings of animals with what was on my plate, I didn’t give it a second thought. Actually, the feeling of isolation and loneliness during my transition was the hardest thing to deal with. No one in my circle of friends was vegan. I had never been to a vegetarian or vegan restaurant in Philly before. The only true vegan person that I knew was across the country in Texas! What was I getting myself into? Was I supposed to stay at home and cook my vegetables every night without anyone to commiserate with?
I knew if I didn’t find like-minded people, I might not survive the transition. Everyone needs support, a shoulder to cry on, someone to vent to….it’s just human nature. So, I reached out via social media….Twitter, Facebook, Google+. I started following some great vegans on Twitter, and I still exchange messages with them today. As much as I like Twitter, it’s hard to really connect with someone with a 140 character allowance. So, the search continued….until I found a group on Facebook called Power to the Veg! I have never “met” a more supportive, friendly, informative, and caring group of people anywhere on the internet and in real life! Stories, recipes, advice, pictures…they have it all! Here’s a little bit from their “About” page:
Whether you are a new Vegan/ Vegetarian or have been one forever, I really wanted to start a group that helped and celebrated each other during the process, the hard times, the GREAT times, the ups, the downs, and everything in between! Along the way, I have learned a few things as we all have- ie- wtf is nutritional yeast or daiya or tempeh??? LOL… We are in this together! For ourselves, the animals, the environment and each other! POWER TO THE VEG! ~Jessica
The best part is, she means it! I was immediately welcomed into the fold and I have never been made to feel like I am unworthy or a “bad” vegan. Jessica and Christina, the ladies in charge, have created such a welcoming community that people are flocking to it from all corners of the internet! One of the biggest misconceptions of the vegan lifestyle is that we are all elitists; some vegans have been known to attack others that don’t live up to their standards and they wind up scaring people away from this amazing lifestyle. One of the mantras of the Power to the Veg! group is “Intention, not perfection” – we all have the same goal in mind, even if we make a mistake or fall off the wagon along the way. The people in P2tV! never fault you messing up….in fact, they will tell you a story of a time when they made a mistake to help you feel better! It’s rare to find such a warm community of people that have never met, but they DO exist! (Side note: I am super excited to ACTUALLY meet some of these awesome people at the NYC Vegetarian Food Festival in a couple of weeks! Woohoo!)
One of the newest additions to the group is a vegan food swap! Some of the members had done a swap before, but it was a new concept to most – I was fortunate enough to be involved in The Verdant Life’s Vegan Food Swap for October 2012 and was able to help out with forming the guidelines for our swap. Each person got matched with another veggie peep, and we each got to shop for $20 worth of vegan goodies to send out to our match! The fun part is the surprise…you never really know what you are going to get! I was lucky enough to get a box from Rachel, a self-professed vegan snack food junkie! Here’s what she sent me:
Holy cow – so many new and tasty things! My two favorite things from the box were definitely the Gone Nuts! Lemon Pepper Cajun almonds and the Earth Balance Coconut and Peanut spread – I can’t wait to put some of it in my morning smoothies! Plus, look at that card….too cute! This was an awesome experience and Rachel did a great job picking things that I have never tried before! My person has yet to receive her box, but I’m hoping she likes everything that I picked for her as well. Already looking forward to next month!
If you are on FB and veggie-curious, or just looking for a great group of people to swap veggie stories with, please check out the Power to the Veg! group and join the wonderful community that has helped me on my vegan journey for 10 months now.
We would love to have you!