Bethesda Mission Vegan Meal
A brisk, biting wind whipped across my face as I exited my car. This chill gave me pause as to what I would be doing for the next several hours, and I was uncharacteristically warmed at the thought. I am lucky, I reflected. I have a nice warm car with heated seats and a full tank of gas. I am fortunate that I was able to travel here from an apartment, a small apartment, but warm and full of things that make me happy, safe and sustained.
How many times do we take things for granted? What would we do if that sense of security was taken away and we were left to live by any means necessary? As I walked toward the entrance of the Bethesda Mission, these thoughts carried me to the adventure we were about to undertake.
Serving a vegan meal at a homeless shelter for cold and hungry men is a bit daunting when you think about it. People often say that as animal advocates, we don’t actually care enough about humans, too, but this is what we are actively trying to overcome. With the amazing planning and inspiration of Seth Dellinger and Melissa Henry, this vision has become a reality.
But a vegan meal? Why impose our “weird, expensive” diet on those who are already food insecure? The answer is simple. Whole nutrition. A vegan diet, contrary to popular belief, is not a diet at all, but a way of life. As much as people think vegan food is weird, sometimes weird is good. All our lives we are conditioned to think that eating meat, dairy, and eggs is good for you and will make you strong, but it is becoming evident that this is not in fact the case. Whole food, plant-based diets are overall, a more nutrient rich alternative, with the added benefit of no harm being done to animals to sustain it. With that being said, our thoughts were not to convert anyone to a plant-based lifestyle, or fool them into eating vegan, as they have enough concerns with trying to stay warm, dry and feel secure. We felt that by sharing a healthy meal to an underserved community, we could do the most good for all sentient beings at one time.
Our experience was a fun one, along with being wholly fulfilling. We fed approximately 175 individuals, many of whom complimented us on the chili and bread rolls that we offered and asked for seconds. The actual food prep was a bit challenging, as most of us have never prepared food for so many people, so we had to do some conversions and adjustments. I now know that you can in fact, make “too much rice”.
When I spend time with my fellow Advocates, I always have a sense of calm. Even if the event is a bit chaotic, I can always trust that our intentions are pure, and our hearts are large. I am hopeful that in the future we can do other “human” outreach projects, so we can show that vegans care about people, too. We just have a bit more awareness about animals, and better bowel movements.
Peace. Keep on keeping on.