Much has changed in the regional vegan community since Tracy Murphy left her job as a global project manager for HSBC to open a haven for animals that might have otherwise ended up on someone’s dinner table.
"We got an idea that we could show people that these animals are no different than dogs or cats, that they can establish an emotional connection and want to do compassionate things for them," said Murphy, who founded the Buffalo Vegan Society in 2007 and serves as president.
The society will host its first St. Patrick’s Day Dinner FUN-raiser from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Sunday at the American Legion Stephen Sikora Post 1322, 950 Payne Ave., North Tonawanda. All are welcome to stop in, buy a beer, listen to Irish folk music and visit with plant-based vendors.
Adult plates of plant-based, holiday-themed food will be available for $25; a smaller $15 plate is available for those 12 and younger. The society expects the meals to sell out. Folks can order them online in advance at buffaloveg.org.
Proceeds will benefit animal care and feeding at Asha’s Sanctuary, a 27-acre swath Murphy bought in early 2013 along Coomer Road in Newfane, shortly before she left her job to start the nonprofit organization.
Since then, two fully plant-based restaurants, Root and Bloom and Vila Verde Café, opened in Buffalo. So, too, did an all-vegan doughnut shop, Fry Baby, and a bakery and cafe, 96 Lives.
The Vegan Grocery Store set up shop in North Tonawanda; Canisius College started a vegan food station called Pitchforks; and at least three plant-based meal-making outfits started: Food Nerd, Mama Rosa's Kitchen and Yeah! Pierogi.
Most of them will have a hand this weekend in the St. Patrick’s Day meal.
Q: What’s for dinner on Sunday?
“Polish sausage” and sauerkraut, cheese and potato pierogi with green-spinach dough, green cabbage and “bacon,” oven-baked green parsley red potatoes, shamrock green cupcakes, coffee and tea. We're also going to have vendors including Lemongrass Spa – and all their products are vegan. The Vegan Educator will be there; she sells treats and other products. The Vegan Grocery Store that just opened on Oliver Street will be there, too.
Q: Any special features?
Everything is going to be compostable; not just biodegradable but compostable. Plates, silverware, cups, coffee cups. It's going to disappear into the ground, so we can lower our footprint. That's an extra expense for us but we believe so much in that. The vegan community wants to be good stewards toward our environment. We're also going to have Rockin Brock, the vegan society's mascot. He's a big broccoli with sneakers. Everybody loves him. We're also going to bring Abraham and Abigail, our turkeys from the sanctuary.
Q: What is the sanctuary like?
Visitors learn about common practices in intensive farming, and how cruel it is toward animals, yet is perfectly legal under the law. They can kiss a cow, rub a pig's belly or talk to a turkey. That gives them a reason for wanting to help.
Q: How can they help?
The number one way is to remove animal products from your diet. If that means starting with just one vegan meal a week, start doing that. You'll get to see that the food is so delicious, and good for you, and maybe you'll try twice a week ... or more.
Q: What is the Vegan Society mission?
To make this more of a compassionate world, together, by being kind to animals, and caring about our health and the environment. We have special events and a monthly Vegan Night Out at a selected restaurant.
Q: How many members does it have?
We have about 3,000 on our e-newsletter and we have a couple thousand followers on our Facebook page.
Q: How can someone join?
Visit our website, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 249-2555, Ext. 809, and subscribe to our e-newsletter. We also have volunteer opportunities. We wouldn't be able to do our St. Patrick's Day dinner without our volunteers.