Embracing a plant-based diet is a personal choice. But it takes a community to get charged up about plant-based eating. “It’s important to make friends who are already committed to a plant-based diet, because we all need that kind of shared experience and support,” says Micaela Cook Karlsen, author of A PLANT-BASED LIFE: Your Complete Guide to Great Food, Radiant Health, Boundless Energy, and a Better Body (AMACOM July 2016). “Close conversation, the immediacy of the energy in a room full of like-minded people, and the personal feedback and sharing offer reassurance and normalcy.” To find and build your own plant-based eating circle:
- Use the internet and social media to make new, plant-based connections in your own backyard. Vegan and vegetarian MeetUp groups are popular and growing so may be the fastest path to live connections where you live.
- Identify local plant-friendly restaurants and grocery stores. Check their bulletin boards for announcements of groups, potluck dinners, or other interesting events that might yield a plant-based community to surround yourself with.
- Take an inventory of your friends, coworkers, and acquaintances to assess who may be open to or curious about plant-based diets. Then, reach out and invite them to try a new recipe with you or join you for an event.
- Go to a local potluck dinner or gathering. Don’t let being solo hold you back; plant-based groups are typically welcoming to newcomers. Even if you don’t feel like fast friends with the others you meet for the first time, you’ll experience a deep pleasure in sharing food with a group that values and prioritizes plant-based eating. Plus, you’ll get to taste some delicious new dishes!
- Throw your own potluck dinner or themed party (the theme being all plant-based food, please). Invite your new plant-based acquaintances. Invite old friends too, explaining that you are hosting a get-together to try out some exciting new dishes and encourage everyone to experiment with new cooking. Serve a fabulous dessert to delight all your guests, including omnivores.
- Join the Community Supported Agriculture movement, connecting local farmers directly with consumers. CSA members purchase a share of the farm’s produce for the season, ready for pick up on a weekly basis. This offers an affordable way to buy local, fresh, often organic vegetables. You’ll know exactly where your food comes from and develop a relationship with the people growing it.
- Get involved with plant-based groups. Is there a vegetarian society in your area? A parents’ group working to improve school food? Volunteer to help!
Adapted from A Plant-Based Life: Your Complete Guide to Great Food, Radiant Health, Boundless Energy, and a Better Body by Micaela Cook Karlsen (AMACOM July 2016).
MICAELA COOK KARLSEN, MSPH, is one of the founding employees of the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies and its former Executive Director. A contributor to the New York Times bestseller Forks Over Knives, she is a member of the advisory board for the Plant-Based Nutrition Healthcare Conference and founder of www.PlantBasedResearch.org.