Vegan movement in the area is on the rise
BY ANNA DURRETT / REPORTER
The Huntsville Vegans are an enthused, friendly group with a core cluster of 25 highly active members and about 30 semi-regulars. The group holds many events, including a weekly meet up, movie screenings at the Huntsville Public Library, potlucks, book discussions and more.
The weekly meet up is on Friday at 6 p.m. at Café 153 at Bridge Street Town Center, during which the group plans future events and socializes. “We’re here too in the event that there’s anybody else out there that’s vegetarian or vegan or even wanting to explore that,” said Huntsville Vegan member Lucy Roberts at the meet up on March 23. Roberts is a Madison resident, and the group welcomes people from all nearby areas to join.
While the group says there are no leaders and everyone contributes their ideas and time, two members stand out as what seem to be chief organizers. Roberts is a key player in the group. She is one of the eldest members and seemingly wisest about veganism. Her daughter became a vegetarian, and awhile later she did too after learning about the health benefits of not eating meat. Roberts learned more about foods and then cut out of her diet all animal products, such as milk and eggs, and became a vegan.
“What I would like for people to do is set aside their current concept of veganism and really explore it from a lot of different angles,” said Roberts. “Explore it from a health perspective. Explore it from the impact it has on animals, and of course the impact it has on the Earth.”
“We do not need meat and dairy in our diets to be healthy,” Roberts said. “As a matter of fact it’s detrimental. It’s a risk to eat dairy. Don’t be afraid that you’re going to die from protein deficiency or calcium. It’s just a myth.”
Another guiding person in the group is Mike Cross, a founding member who helped start the group in early 2011 by sitting at Olde Towne Coffee in Five Points on Friday nights with a small sign and posting the event on Facebook. “I figured I’d just be there every week and establish a regular presence,” said Cross. “I’d be that vegan guy who’s always there, waiting for more people to show up, no matter how long it takes.” He said after about eight months Huntsville Vegans was “quite active and going strong.”
Cross became a vegan four years ago. “I started with an ethical objection to animal use, then started to learn more about environmental issues, about health and about the different approaches to animal rights,” Mike said. “I would like veganism to become a movement, and for an ethic of peace, of nonviolence, of compassion and awareness of what we’re doing to this world of ours to become simple common sense.”
Movie night is held on the second Thursday of every month. On March 8 the group watched Vegucated, an award-winning documentary that followed three New Yorkers who accepted the challenge to go vegan for six weeks. Roberts also gave a short spiel of veganism before the movie and numerous people brought vegan dishes to share with everyone.
Roberts said the engrained culture of meat eating makes it hard to reach people. She encourages people to explore veganism on their own and then come talk to the group at one of the gatherings.