Sunday, April 8, 2012

Schenectady Greenmarket (inside Proctor's)

On March 25, 2012, members of the Albany Vegetarian Network set up a vegan outreach table in honor of the Great American Meatout, organized by Farm Animal Rights Movement. This tabling and food sampling event took place at Schenectady Greenmarket inside Proctor's theater from 10 am - 2 pm. Although there are a few companies at this venue which sell vegan products, the majority of the vendors sell non-vegan items, which made this a perfect location for outreach.

The companies that generously donated products included Turtle Island, Gardein, Field Roast and Whole Soy & Co. Approximately 500 samples were passed out to the shopping-crowd, who seemed genuinely interested in the various items being offered, such as Tofurky slices, Whole Soy and Co. yogurt, Field Roast sausages, Gardein bbq "chicken" and "beef" tips, Rice Dream and almond milk. Some people even waited to try a sample that was being cooked before moving on with their travels. Most people enjoyed the meat alternatives and plainly stated so.

Many questions were asked about non-dairy milk products, vitamins and minerals especially important to vegans and where to buy the products that were being sampled. Book suggestions pertaining to these questions, particularly the nutrition queries, were given to those interested.

Stickers from People for the Ethical Treatment of animals and temporary tattoos
and buttons from Turtle Island (makers of Tofurky) were all very popular. Much literature was shared on one table, from organizations such as Farm Sanctuary, Farm Animal Rights Movement, People for the Ethical Treatement of Animals and Vegan Outreach. Coupons were also available for many of the products that were being sampled.

We look forward to returning to this event later in the year!

Monday, April 2, 2012

Vegan Food Samples at the Hannaford Kidz Expo

On March 3, 2012, Albany Vegetarian Network volunteers distributed vegan food samples to the public at the Hannaford Kidz Expo at the Empire State Plaza Convention Center. The plaza filled with vendors, entertainment, family friendly activities, and over 10,000 people, creating the perfect opportunity to share food and information on a massive scale.

The AVN table featured sandwiches prepared with two types of Lightlife vegan deli slices, mustard, and Vegenaise, as well as various nondairy milks (chocolate, vanilla and original versions of coconut, almond and rice milks). Many people were grateful for the opportunity to indulge their curiosities before investing at the grocery store.

By the end of the day 500 milk samples and 400 sandwiches were distributed, as well as vegan starter kits, literature on disease prevention and raising healthy vegan families from the Physician's Committee for Responsible Medicine and Compassion Over Killing, and animal-friendly stickers from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.

After reaching so many people, and generating interest in our organization's activities, this event will definitely be on our volunteering calendar for 2013!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Food for Life and Cookie Demonstration

The Albany Vegetarian Network hosted a free vegan lunch on November 21, 2009 from 11-3pm at the First Unitarian Society of Schenectady in Schenectady, New York. On the menu was shepherd’s pie and three choices of soup: Cream of broccoli with a cashew base, vegetable bean and barley and a lentil-barley with spinach. Guests were offered organic bread with a choice of vegan spread, homemade hummus, and lettuce and tomato. Fresh cider, water and coffee were also served. The food was prepared and served from a spacious and well equipped kitchen by AVN volunteers wearing vegan lifestyle shirts. Guests helped themselves to free literature supporting a vegan lifestyle. Nicole Arciello Berhaupt and Pat Battuello from Food for Thought catering (Cooking with Compassion with NO animal products) gave a cookie baking demonstration to the guests and provided pumpkin oatmeal cranberry walnut cookies and rum nog cookies for everyone present. An arts and crafts table was set up for the several children who attended. Aaron Civic graciously donated his time and talent with beautiful vocals, piano and guitar and it was a wonderful addition to the afternoon. Leftover soup was donated to the City Mission of Schenectady for their food program. The event was well received by forty-five guests and generated interest in additional events for the organization.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Workplace Giving

Post by AVN Member, Claire

On Monday October 21st, 2009 the 1st of the dinner and environmental film series was held at General Electric Research Center in Niskayuna, NY.  There were 30 attendees and the dinner consisted of mixed salad, marinated tofu, sweet potatoes, herbed barley, green beans and roasted garlic brussels sprouts. There was dessert of apple crisp and soy vanilla ice cream.  The literature available for free taking were Vegetarian Starter Kits and a pamphlet called Factory Farming: Destroying the Environment.  The movie 6 Degrees could change the World by the National Geographic Channel was shown.  This film visually shows the disturbing ecological impacts each single degree of temperature increase could have on planet Earth. (

VegFund sponsored this event and provided the ingredients for the dinner and dessert.  Vegfund is a not-for-profit organization with a mission to acquaint the general public with a plant based diet.  Anyone can apply for funding to serve free plant based food and hand out educational literature at events.  Visit their website for additional information (  Join the network of grassroots activists!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Feeling Good in Sheep’s Clothing

Post by guest blogger: Joe

A wolf works with the flock

Full disclosure: I’m not vegan. Hell, I’m not even vegetarian. Up until a few weeks ago I ate anything that tasted good and damned the health consequences. But, my girlfriend and her immediate family are vegan, and they happen to put on a yearly Vegetarian Expo in upstate New York so, being both a good boyfriend and an argumentative bastard looking to throw himself across enemy lines, when they asked me if I wanted to help out I said yes.

The Expo is a good size, taking in around 3000 attendees and over 100 vendors last year, and I was looking forward to all kinds of people showing up; vegans, vegetarians, pesco- and lacto- and ovotarians, raw foodists. I even expected the odd omnivore or two. I figured that after manning a booth and handing out programs I could wander at my leisure and pick fights with anyone who got in my face about what I was eating back at home. My philosophy has always been live and let live, with the caveat that the right to swing one’s fist ends at my nose. My assessment of vegans and vegetarians follows this philosophy pretty strictly, and I don’t care what other people eat so long as they aren’t pushy about it. That said, and as I mentioned before, I’m not shy about arguing back. Sadly, my fightin’ side was disappointed as I was confronted by the nicest group of people this side of Tom Hanks.

After doing my part to point attendees in the right direction (bathrooms are that way, speaker hall is this way), the girlfriend grabbed me and said, “Be sure to check out Dr. Greger’s lecture; he’s hilarious.” Of course he’s hilarious, I thought, he’s trying to convince people to give up their favorite foods; you’re not going to do that without making friends first. Watching him churn through slides, though, I realized that the act (which is funny) is completely unnecessary. The guy doesn’t need to be your friend; he’s got the science to back everything up. But he’s still a nice guy. Greger’s lecture ended up being immensely entertaining and educational, and I even won a CD with 1000 scientific studies on it. I’m already making plans to blog about reading each and every study.

After Greger’s talk the girlfriend and I wandered around the exhibitor’s booths, checking out the various products and organizations and food. Everyone was friendly and, for the most part, assumed you were already with it on the vegetarian/vegan thing. I wasn’t asked a single time what kind of diet I followed, and no one could smell the hotdogs and fried eggs coursing through my veins. I’m guessing it helped that I was wearing a volunteer’s badge. Still, I wondered where the contention was. I’m always reading and hearing about how pushy and obnoxious vegans and vegetarians are. “Why do you eat dead flesh?” “How can you drink baby food for cows?” “Why don’t you just eat your dog, too?” I was fully expecting to be ousted and set upon the minute I wandered into the wrong corner of the city center. But the attack never came, and it was impossible to tell who ate what. With everyone being so unbelievably polite, the attendees could have been fresh from lunch at the local Outback Steakhouse and no one would have known. 

By the end of the day, and after (unsurprisingly) delicious vegan jerk “chicken,” vegan ice cream bars, vegan chips and dip, and vegan “twinkies” (yeah, you read that right), I had met many of the vendors (certainly the food vendors) and Expo staff and volunteers. They didn’t pester me with questions, and those who knew about my eating habits didn’t point them out to others as though apologies were necessary for my being there. The Vegetarian Expo was like every other expo and convention I’ve ever been to: lots of walking, interesting speakers, pricey food, and practically no parking. I felt an ease eventually settle on me, and I was able to walk the Expo floor without thinking about how I was a meat eater in a room full of herbivores, an outsider. The people working for and attending the Expo made me feel like an insider, if only by not actively talking about the one thing that had brought them all together: the way they eat. In a way, that’s the ultimate goal of live and let live, to not have to talk about our differences if we don’t want to. I went to the Expo looking for a fight; the Expo came to upstate New York looking to enjoy good food and friends.

And let’s not forget about the science! I mentioned that I ate anything up until a few weeks ago, and that’s true. A few weeks ago I started doing research on dairy, after hearing in advance one of the Expo speakers. He made good points and I knew that, if the science was solid, his lectures would certainly require one to reevaluate his love of milk and cheese. So, I hit the internet and pulled up every study I could find on cheese, milk, protein, fat, cancer, and osteoporosis. Turns out, I don’t like dairy enough to counteract the things it can do to my body in the long run. Have I gone vegan? No. There are still a few meals I’m not willing to give up, even though they may be bad for me. But do I recommend investigating the other side of the debate on diet? Of course I do. Attending an Expo, reading a study, thinking hard about why people do things differently; these are all things we can and should do if we want to have pleasant interactions with others. No one’s going to brain wash you, and no one’s going to kick you out for being a part of “the opposition.” As the NY’s Capital Region Vegetarian Expo shows, and as it certainly showed me, it’s more likely that you’ll be treated like everyone else, with kindness and respect. They might ask you to buy something, but trust me; there are many—many—worse things in life than a vegan “twinkie.”

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Grafton Lakes Summer Vegetarian Potluck

Post by AVN member, Jan

Last Sunday the Berkshire Vegetarian Network, in conjunction with the Albany Vegetarian Network Inc., hosted an all-vegetarian potluck/gathering/picnic at the beautiful Grafton Lakes State Park. The event featured amazing food brought by all guests, music, and some guest speakers including Animal Communicator/Singer/Songwriter, Susan Hamlin, Nationally Recognized Raw-Vegan Athlete, Tim VanOrden, Radical-Pacifist, Vegetarian Musician, Barry Hyman, and Dionondehowa Wildlife Sanctuary representative Bonnie Hoag.

It was a great day with wonderful people and delicious food!

Check out our upcoming events at:

Monday, June 22, 2009

Spring Benefit Dinner

Post by AVN member, Jan

Held at The Womens Club of Albany on June 6th, the Albany Vegetarian Network's all-vegan Spring Benefit Dinner was a great success! There was a scrumptious meal prepared by volunteers, Nick and Britin Foster and by our President, Richard Hamlin. Live, traditional Irish music was performed by Nephin and the dinner featured guest speakers Maribeth Abrams (certified nutritionist) and Jenny Brown (co-founder and director of Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary). 

The dinner was sponsored by Honest Weight Food Coop and Vegan Creations along with some valuable donations from Bountiful Bread, Earth Balance, Jewish Vegetarians of North America, Laurie's Gluten Free Goodness, Linda Long, Moo Shoes, Organic Nectars, Starbucks Coffee Company, and The Phoenicians Restaurant. 

Upcoming events: Vegetarian Summer Gathering at Grafton, NY State Park and NY's Capital Region Vegetarian Expo in Saratoga Springs, NY.