Our pilot program took off and landed without a hitch! Now we are flying into Session 2 starting on Wednesday, and we can’t be more thrilled to see what the future holds. Your support, help, and encouragement have carried us far.
Here’s a quick recap of the Session 1:
A Community of Veg Teens
It’s not easy being veg in a non-veg world. Mary-Chris and I have experienced this as adults, but we hadn’t counted on just how challenging it can be for teens to feel isolated and like the only veg-identifying person in their friend group.
During the first few weeks of the program, VSA members shared their experiences of being vegan or vegetarian. Heads nodded empathetically when members expressed their frustrations at not being taken seriously, being teased, and feeling ill-equipped to advocate for themselves and the issues about which they care so much. They listened to each other with compassion. They offered advice. They started to bond.
At VSA, we take health seriously and want to make sure that everyone embarking on a veg diet does so in a healthful manner. Our first guest speaker, Debbie Fong, is a registered dietitian. Debbie joined our third meeting and gave an informative workshop on how to obtain all the necessary nutrients, while eating a whole-food, plant-based diet. I’ve shared my own health journey with you all in the past, and I believe strongly in the healing power of nutrition. Debbie also emphasized the importance of good nutrition education to empower veg teens and adults to achieve optimal health on a plant-based diet.
By week 6, the VSA team was ready for action! The students were asked to choose a goal for their initiative (educational outreach activity). We asked them, "What do want your audience members to take away from your action?"
They unanimously agreed that they would like to raise awareness of animal rights issues, particularly in the food system. Given the limited time of our 9-week pilot program, they chose to host a film screening as their means of outreach.
The documentary film The Ghosts in Our Machine highlights the use of animals in our society for a variety of purposes - entertainment, food, clothing, and medical testing.
Despite the short timeframe, over 30 people attended the virtual event.
Feedback from the audience was overwhelmingly positive, and we were so impressed by the team for hosting a successful and impactful event!
Promotional Event Posters Designed By the VSA Team
On the final night of the pilot program, Chef Kelly Kerr, aka The VeganAbler, gave us a master class in cooking a delicious mac 'n' cheese dish. While we cooked, she shared with us her path to veganism and how she chooses to use her culinary skills as her form of activism.
Time and distance melted away, and it felt as though we were all cooking and laughing together in the same kitchen. It was a fun way to end a transformative 9-weeks!
We couldn't have imagined a better team of young people to take a chance on a brand-new program and teach us how to make it even better. Through their honest feedback, we have learned that VSA accomplished its main goals of creating a community and inspiring the next generation of changemakers to hone and refine their skills to become even more powerful advocates for a just, compassionate, and plant-forward world!
Here’s what VSA members have to say about the program:
"VSA is a friendly group from all over the country who are coming together and talking about what they are passionate about . . . a plant based lifestyle!"
"I absolutely loved how open it was and I never felt judged during the meetings. We were all able to talk and bond even in a virtual setting."
"I loved the feeling of community. I loved discussing the thing I am most passionate about. I loved meeting such wonderful people who fight every day for the end of animal suffering."
"I loved how we formed a community and all talked about different issues we have faced. The amount of discussion time was so valuable and I felt connected to everybody in VSA"
"Can't wait for session 2!"
Session 2 Starts Wednesday!
Registration is open! Session 2 runs from March 17 to June 9th. The program is FREE!
If you know of any veg or veg-friendly teens (ages 13-18), please send them our way! If not, please share our info far and wide so we can support as many young people as we can.
We are beyond humbled by the generosity of time and outpouring of encouragement that we have received since we launched.
Thank you for your belief in our vision.
With Sincere Gratitude,
Victoria and Mary-Chris