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Thread: Vegan communities

  1. #1
    V for Veganica Sarabi's Avatar
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    Default Vegan communities

    Do you know of or have you participated in a vegan community outside of the internet? Please tell about them! Where are they located?

    I spent six days in a Zen monastery in New York over the winter break, and I was surprised and very happy to find when I got there that it was vegan! One of the Sisters told me they went vegan in 2007. It's the monastery of Thich Nhat Hanh, a very famous Zen teacher who founded his own school beginning in France, which has branches in New York, California, and Vietnam. All of his monasteries are vegan.

    The only exception was that I occasionally saw things like milk chocolate, Panera coffee with cream, Panera cream cheese - all donated by laypeople. I can't really see them telling people, "Don't donate non-vegan food!!!" but I didn't see any of the monastics consuming these donated items, just the laypeople. The problem was that I thought I could get away with not looking at ingredients while I was there, but then I accidentally ate something non-vegan on my last day there. I absolutely loved being in a vegan community - the food was delicious - especially after coming directly from the bus station in NYC where there was not a single vegan sandwich out of 20 shops. I only met one vegan layperson there besides myself, but even that was a pleasant surprise because there really weren't that many laypeople there and I could meet a vegan there whereas at a university of 8000 people I know not one other vegan.

    Oh, it made me feel so good. I felt so at home at that monastery, and the vegan status contributed greatly to that. I felt no alienation at all, but not being vegan would've been a source of alienation. It gives me confidence now being back at the university where no one else is vegan (except that the food is of poorer quality here).
    "To become vegetarian is to step into the stream which leads to nirvana." - Buddha

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    Boodler pusskins's Avatar
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    Default Re: Vegan communities

    Wow! That sounds good! We all need a 'soul top-up' now and again, and it seems like you got it!

    Do they have a website/information site?
    "You're right, Jackie. The Fonz could beat up Bruce Lee."

  3. #3
    V for Veganica Sarabi's Avatar
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    Default Re: Vegan communities

    Yes, they do. The monastery I stayed at is Blue Cliff Monastery , and the original monastery is Plum Village (Village des Pruniers). Here is a guide to the eating meditation we did on the website of Deer Park Monastery (the one in California). I wrote that down and continue to read it whenever I eat.

    I feel like this gives veganism legitimacy among my friends. I have two Zen Buddhist friends, one of whom is vegetarian, and both of them have expressed to me their doubts about veganism. The vegetarian one told me he's read books on veganism and still thinks it's "radical." I'd like to see what they think about one of the most famous and revered Zen masters in the world being radical.
    "To become vegetarian is to step into the stream which leads to nirvana." - Buddha

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    Default Re: Vegan communities

    Quote pusskins View Post
    Wow! That sounds good! We all need a 'soul top-up' now and again, and it seems like you got it!

    Do they have a website/information site?
    In the UK there is an organisation called the Community of Interbeing which practice in the tradition of Thich Nhat Hanh. Their web site is http://www.interbeing.org.uk/

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    Default Re: Vegan communities

    Quote Sarabi View Post
    I have two Zen Buddhist friends, one of whom is vegetarian, and both of them have expressed to me their doubts about veganism. The vegetarian one told me he's read books on veganism and still thinks it's "radical." I'd like to see what they think about one of the most famous and revered Zen masters in the world being radical.
    I too have been on retreat with Thich Nhat Hanh and his sangha. I remember the reaction from many lay retreatants when they found out the food would be vegan - surprise, trepidation etc.

    I also practice with a local sangha, all of whom happen to be vegan.

    There are, of course, many things about Buddhism (and other religious traditions) that are "radical" in the sense that they challenge us to live better lives for the benefit of ourselves and others. Veganism is just one of many ways we can put these ideas into practice in our lives.

    You might suggest your Zen friends familiarise themselves with Thich Nhat Hanh's interpretation of the precepts and his ideas on "interbeing" - this will help them understand how veganism relates to Zen.

    What surprises me is not that we find vegan religious communities, but that religious communities have not (yet) embraced veganism more fully. Perhaps in time we will see more and more of this - veganism is, of course, very new compared to religious traditions.

  6. #6
    V for Veganica Sarabi's Avatar
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    Default Re: Vegan communities

    Oh, that's cool to hear you've been to one of his monasteries, too. I didn't see anyone at Blue Cliff who was surprised or had any reaction other than positive or neutral, but there are far fewer people there than at Plum Village. I heard their stories about how they couldn't give up some kind of food or other, but they all seemed to be more or less on the journey to "tread more lightly upon the earth" in that regard. All of the ones I talked to about it had been there before, though. That's funny that you say there was "trepidation"! Wow. Did this dread dissipate as they spent time there?

    What kind of sangha do you practice with locally?

    Those are good ideas for talking to my friends. If I remember next time I talk to one of them, I'll bring them up.

    It is a little bit surprising in retrospect that Thich Nhat Hanh's monasteries only went vegan in 2007, considering how many vegan followers he must've had and been talking to for years. Why did he wait so long? It would be interesting to find a sangha that has been vegan for longer. Obviously the longer the sangha has been vegan the more justified it will be in the eyes of outsiders. But hopefully Thich Nhat Hanh inspires people to not be so hard edge in questioning the legitimacy of the way of life.

    By the way, do you know if his monasteries are also vegan with regard to non-food items? [Edit: I was thinking that the monastics wore fur-trimmed hoods on their coats, but looking back at the pictures on their website and those I took, it seems I just got that impression from looking at all the laypeople wearing them. Especially a resident layperson I liked a lot but never talked to. ]
    "To become vegetarian is to step into the stream which leads to nirvana." - Buddha

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    Default Re: Vegan communities

    I would love to go spend some time in one of these, you are so lucky to have done so and I am very envious.

  8. #8
    muxu bero bat! gogs67's Avatar
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    Default Re: Vegan communities

    Quote Sarabi View Post
    It gives me confidence now being back at the university where no one else is vegan (except that the food is of poorer quality here).

    I'd be VERY surprised that, in a university of 8,000 people, you are the only vegan!
    Disobedience is the true foundation of liberty!

  9. #9
    V for Veganica Sarabi's Avatar
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    Default Re: Vegan communities

    Quote gogs67 View Post
    I'd be VERY surprised that, in a university of 8,000 people, you are the only vegan!
    Well, I met a couple of other self-identified vegans. One of them eats jell-o with no qualms, calling herself a "bad vegan," and the other one eats pizza with no qualms, saying "because I know that if I were living independently it would be vegan." I didn't give either of them a hassle about it... just saying that that's the best of veganism at my university. And I met another girl who used to be vegan but now eats egg whites because she is a sports team captain and was pressured by her team to find more protein. She no longer identifies as vegan, though frankly she is probably more vegan than the last person I talked to, who only eats pizza because she knows she'd make vegan pizza if she were making it.

    I fail to see why one needs to go to an established place with a name when a group of like minded friends living close by could start their own group and it would probably be better, more personal.
    And I fail to see where I'm supposed to find a group of like-minded friends living close by. Please do elaborate! That actually sounds like a good idea, lol. (My friends, however, are not vegan.) By the way, next week is World Wide Vegan Bake Sale Week, and I'm trying to set up a vegan bake sale or give-away in town if I can find time in my schedule. I guess that would be a chance to start working on a local vegan community, though I am not sure how that would work.
    "To become vegetarian is to step into the stream which leads to nirvana." - Buddha

  10. #10
    timberly's Avatar
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    Default Re: Vegan communities

    I only know one other vegan personally and I met her in the cafeteria at college this year (-:

  11. #11
    muxu bero bat! gogs67's Avatar
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    Default Re: Vegan communities

    Quote Sarabi View Post
    Well, I met a couple of other self-identified vegans. One of them eats jell-o with no qualms, calling herself a "bad vegan," and the other one eats pizza with no qualms, saying "because I know that if I were living independently it would be vegan." I didn't give either of them a hassle about it... just saying that that's the best of veganism at my university. And I met another girl who used to be vegan but now eats egg whites because she is a sports team captain and was pressured by her team to find more protein. She no longer identifies as vegan, though frankly she is probably more vegan than the last person I talked to, who only eats pizza because she knows she'd make vegan pizza if she were making it.

    .

    Oeffffff.............'bad vegan'..........heard it all now!


    I just know that most folk i know who are vegan don't really make much of a noise about it, it's not something we bother talking much about to be honest.
    I'm sure there will be other people at your Uni, out of the 8,000, who are 100% vegan, you just havn't met them yet!
    Disobedience is the true foundation of liberty!

  12. #12
    Quirky Vegan Kate1978's Avatar
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    Default Re: Vegan communities

    Glasgow University in Scotland seems to have an established vegan community. Their catering facilities have won Vegan Society awards. Maybe you could do an exchange year
    Last edited by Kate1978; Jun 21st, 2009 at 09:03 AM. Reason: silly typing fingers
    ~ Don't think twice, it's all right ~

  13. #13
    AnneCE's Avatar
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    Default Re: Vegan communities

    Quote janeeyre View Post
    Thank you for your message. I have so little in common with most others there is little point in going anywhere. Looks like i am going to have a lonely life. Mike
    Aw, Mike, that is sad even if it feels true. I often feel that way myself, but I refuse (unless I am feeling really shitty which is often) to let that be true all the time.

    I feel less lonely when I read posts on here, for instance. I hope you feel that way in time, if not here, somewhere else. And I have come across like-minded people in the most unlikely places. I doubt I will find one place, group etc where all aspects of me are totally accepted/understood/shared, but I am happy if I am respected and there are other ways of sharing the other bits of me.

    I'd love to try a vegan community for the short-term - it would be so cool to not have to check ingredients, explain exactly why I am vegan, that I don't miss bacon etc etc. and to have good discussions based on a common commitment to being vegan. I sometimes go to a Scottish Vegan potluck and that's what it's like for an afternoon. A week or so would be brilliant. Come back home with renewed energy and motivation. I doubt I could do it for any longer than a week, though!

    The only retreat I've been to was a few days in a Catholic place. I'm not a Catholic but it had been recommended to me as easy-going, non-regimented, etc. and it was for the most part. The food was traditional Scottish stuff though, mince and tatties mostly. But it was many years ago, when I wasn't vegan or fussy.

  14. #14
    AnneCE's Avatar
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    Default Re: Vegan communities

    Hi Mike, I am officially a nutter so don't worry about that. I think a lot of vegans would identify with what you are saying. We all could do with a safe place with understanding people. I think this forum and other places is about building an online community (am I being idealistic?). I certainly think it is more successful than many others I have come across.

    I am currently thinking a lot about my own potential for cruelty and how to minimise that aspect of myself in favour of compassion, solidarity, and respect for others.

    One of my heroes, black feminist Audre Lorde said "The master's tools will never dismantle the master's house" about something else but I think it can also mean that to create a better world, we have to do things differently to how they are currently being done. Or else we will keep things more or less the same. You can't fight for peace, you can't create community by staying isolated, you can't create a kind and compassionate world unless you too are kind and compassionate. It's hard work, but (right now) I believe it is crucial.

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    Default Re: Vegan communities

    Quote Kate1978 View Post
    Glasgow University in Scotland seems to have an established vegan community. Their catering facilities have won Vegan Society awards. Maybe you could do an exchange year
    It's true, our vegan community in Glasgow and at the Uni is a very good one, and we're all very friendly (and quite a diverse bunch too!) - just ask SnowyWhite or Jimmeh The catering facilities are very good for vegans too. Vegan chocolate cake, every day, 2 a slice... Mmmm cake is good.

  16. #16
    AnneCE's Avatar
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    Default Re: Vegan communities

    I'm going through to Glasgow for a couple of nights, will be heading to the uni for that chocolate cake... if anyone there sees a fat redhead with chocolate all over her face, do say hi!

  17. #17

    Default Re: Vegan communities

    The Fraser Building, opposite Glasgow University Library, Hillhead Street Not a long walk from Tchai Ovna, the Left Bank or the 78! Enjoy!

  18. #18
    AnneCE's Avatar
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    Default Re: Vegan communities

    Thankfully Edinburgh has the Baked Tattie Shop or else I would never leave Glasgow.

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    Question Re: Vegan communities

    I'm seriously interested in joining or forming a vegan rural commune in the UK. If anyone feels the same way or has any information that could help please let me know. Thanx.

  20. #20
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    Default Re: Vegan communities

    i've been to Great Vow Monastery and Green Gulch. both are zen. GVM offered mostly vegan food, but alas milk made an appearance at breakfast. they didn't ask me to drink it but it was being passed. GG offered 2 meal types, one vegetables and lacto(maybe ovo, too), and the other vegan. it was nice vegans were given consideration at these places, but they were not vegan sanghas. buddhism seems focused on self liberation while i seem to inescapeably embrace my existence and feelings.

    being around nonvegans since my 'realization of the reality of living creatures' has produced a revoltion in me so profound i now have extreme difficulty interacting with most of society. my disgust with nonvegans is so intense professionals have diagnosed me as schizophrentic (that doesn't mean multiple personalities). animals are people to me. when i see meat it isn't a mystery substance to me, it is a piece of a corpse of a person i could have known. i've discovered the term 'highly sensitive' and think i am a 'highly sensitive vegan' who happens to be highly stressed. i am like a fish out of water without a solid and secure vegan society to live in.

    vegan mentality can be measured in degrees, like the intentional communities website measures the veganness of vegan intentional communities (v1-v10), and i exist on the far end of the beam. it seems natural to me that some other vegans might find living among nonvegans unpleasant, and that some of them would like to live in a vegan exclusionist society like the amish who do their own thing.

  21. #21
    kikifromscotland's Avatar
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    Default Re: Vegan communities

    Quote Kate1978 View Post
    Glasgow University in Scotland seems to have an established vegan community. Their catering facilities have won Vegan Society awards. Maybe you could do an exchange year
    How annoying that the entire time I went to Glasgow uni I was not a vegan (was vegetarian) and now that I've left I'm vegan! Maybe I can go along to the meetings and pretend to be a student, I still have my old matric card...

  22. #22

    Default Re: Vegan communities

    It would be great if we could form communities. I am in Seattle and there seems to be more and more options popping up. It's a very vegan friendly place. I get excited when I meet another vegan!

  23. #23
    Torath's Avatar
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    Default Re: Vegan communities

    if we banded together, then we could be the majority in our own areas instead of being the odd ones out. i think something like a neighborhood with a small commercial area and large garden could be a good way to have a place where vegans can relax. if a few vegan ran business operated out of one neighborhood then some of the residents could have convenient jobs. incorporating ideas in line with the Transition Towns movement, a vegan neighborhood could become a powerful example to the world.

  24. #24
    rxseeeyse
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    Default Re: Vegan communities

    I think there's a vegan outreach in Vancouver CAnada. they came to my university once and the lady told me vegan cheese can taste great same with vegan cupcakes. Which really makes me feel happy to know, for my love of cakes. But either way, I forgot the book she was talking about and never find out that magic vegan baking book's name...

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    Default Re: Vegan communities

    There is only one book that that can be, surely - Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World. A must-have.

  26. #26
    rxseeeyse
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    Default Re: Vegan communities

    OMG thank you soooooooo muuuch. XD I cant wait to make those cupcakes!!!

  27. #27

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    Default Re: Vegan communities

    No worries!

    I can recommend the carrot cupcakes!

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