Tomorrow (October 20, 2013) is the 4th annual Texas Veggie Fair (TVF). This event is an important day to many vegans as it celebrates all of the different elements of the vegan lifestyle and shares them with the world. This wonderful event is open to everyone young and old, vegan or not, companion animals are welcome and best of all it is FREE.
The TVF is put together by an all-volunteer team of “Dallasites” who are passionate about building awareness to the benefits of a plant-based diet by building and engaging the community and educating them on environmental causes and animal welfare. Putting on an event this size takes a lot of planning and strong leadership. At the head of the table is TVF founder – James Scott.
I first met James about three years ago when I made the jump from being vegetarian to vegan. I was a little confused as to what I needed to do, what to eat, how to cook and more. As usual I turned to the internet and found a wonderful website DallasVegan.com. This website not only had resources that helped me with my dietary questions, but it introduced me to a community of wonderful like minded individuals who have become family to me.
In the midst of all of the planning for the TVF, writing blog posts and putting together social events for those of us lucky to call North Texas home, James made time to do this wonderful interview – meet James Scott, Dallas Vegan.
Q: How long have you lived here and what brought you to Texas?
A: I was born in Florida but moved here before I was one year old. What is the saying…”I wasn’t born here, but I got here as fast as I could!”
Q: When did you become vegan and what was happening in your life at the time?
A: I became vegetarian almost 10 years ago – it was something I was going to do for a month to become more fit and healthy. During that month, I researched the other reasons someone would want to become vegetarian – for the environment, for animals, and decided it was something I wanted to continue. A couple of years later after learning more about the inherent cruelty involved in dairy farming and egg production, I went vegan and never turned back!
Q: How has being vegan changed your life?
A: This is a different one, as it’s hard to count the number of ways my life has been positively impacted by becoming vegan. At the most basic level, I feel like going vegan has expanded my horizons when it comes to trying new foods and cuisines out. Some people may think a vegan diet is more restrictive, but I am certain I eat a much more varied diet than I ever did before.
Q: You are at a dinner party, the kitchen accommodates your vegan meal and it is served, all omnivores eyes are on your plate – what are some question you get and how do you answer?
A: Well, I think most vegans get their fair-share of the typical questions like “what about protein” and “do you miss meat”? Most of those are easy to answer, as the facts are clear that a plant-based diet can provide all the nutrition needed for a healthy lifestyle (without all of the bad stuff like cholesterol).
I’d say one of the ones that sticks out the most, and the ones that I address when I can, is “oh that has (name the animal product), you can’t eat that.” The keyword to me is “can’t.” There are a lot of things I can’t do (fly, breath underwater, etc.), but not eating animal products is something I “choose” to do. I choose not to contribute to the suffering of animals and the devastation of our environment – a choice anyone can make.
Q: When I became vegan I hit the internet looking for resources and I found your website DallasVegan.com – tell me how that got started.
A: When I first went vegan I wanted to start writing about restaurants in the area that had vegan options. I went looking for a platform for my writings, I met another blogger that had already been writing on the subject by the name of Eddie Garza. We joined forces and started writing about vegan-friendly restaurants. About a year later I created a website and added restaurant listings to our blog postings, and DallasVegan.com was born.
A: To be honest, the Vegan 101 group was around before I became a vegan. It was actually the first time I actually met with a group of vegans. It wasn’t until years later that the former organizer stepped down that I stepped in and took ownership of it.
Dallas Vegan Drinks was born of my interest in veganism and, well, my love of beer! “Vegan Drinks” was a concept first organized in New York City, with multiple cities that joined in from across the country. At the time in 2009 there wasn’t a chapter in all of Texas, something I sought to quickly remedy. So in October of 2009 we had our first event in the Idle Rich pub.
Q: In all your spare time (LOL) you started the Texas Veggie Fair. The Fair is in its 4th successful year – What’s going on this year?
A: I am so excited for this year, especially with all of the new additions. Of course we’ll have guest speakers, music, and lots of lots of vegan food (double the number from last year), but we’ll also have a beer garden sponsored by Trinity Hall, one of my favorite vegan-friendly bars in Dallas. Also, our new kids’ area (the “Veggie Village”) is going to be a great place for families to spend the day with educational opportunities, as well as arts, crafts and games.
Q: Who or what inspires you to do what you?
A: I think hearing from people about how what I might have done to help them in their journey keeps me inspired to keep at it. I know the more I can do to help people to learn about veganism, the more animals that will be saved.
Q: You’ve definitely got a lot on your plate, so what do you do with any down time you have?
A: I play ice hockey and love running, though around this time of year I don’t get much time for the running!
Q: What words of wisdom can you share for someone just starting a vegan lifestyle?
A: Just remember that you don’t have to be perfect from the start, or ever (no one can be perfect). You have to know and believe in the reasons you’ve chosen to be vegan, and not compare them to what other people believe or think you should do.
Once you’re comfortable with your reasoning, get comfortable with learning more – about cooking, about what kinds of restaurants you can dine at, and also how to connect with other like-minded people. I think a key to success is surrounding yourself with supportive friends/family that understand and can relate what you’re doing – whether locally or virtually.