Harrisonburg is a hotspot for food celebrations and the arts, whether you want to pair food and wine, beer and music, or any number of other combinations of food, art, drinks, music, and community. Vegan Night Out taps into this positive energy, celebrating the many options for vegan fare and fun in downtown Harrisonburg. In addition, it is a way for vegans and anyone interested in veggie living to come together, be proud, and support local restaurants who offer us great food to enjoy.
Being vegan, you get pretty used to being in the minority in most situations. I have been an ethical vegan for over 13 years; when I became vegan at Virginia Tech in 1999, I had to explain to most everyone that “vegan” meant I did not eat or use products from animals. I was the only vegan I knew, which was fine…interesting, and sometimes challenging, but okay. I went vegan for animals, not for me.
Nowadays, there is so much more awareness of veganism, so many more vegan-friendly products, and so much more opportunity for fellowship. But the vegan community is still a very small (though vocal) minority.
Though we are few, there are other vegans in the Valley, not to mention many vegetarians and others interested in or shifting towards veganism. And I always wonder if they, too, feel isolated or marginalized to the point of insignificance. I am fortunate in that my wife is vegan as well, so we can support each other in living a vegan life. Not every vegan has this good fortune, though.
Vegan Night Out is, I hope, a chance to create community and pride for every vegan in the area, and to welcome others who want to know more about veganism. The event consists of two parts: downtown dining and a free film screening.
First, I invite you to come downtown tonight, Tuesday, September 18, to enjoy delicious vegan fare from 5:00-7:00 pm at participating restaurants, listed below. They will be offering various vegan specials or highlighting existing vegan menu items (prices vary by restaurant). You can choose from:
– Joshua Wilton House, 412 South Main Street: vegan appetizer made with local mushrooms and vegan “tasting menu”; call ahead for reservations.
– Earth & Tea Café, 120 South Main Street: vegan kabobs and soup.
– Blue Nile, 181 North Main Street: 1/2 off vegan appetizers, until 7:00 pm only.
– Friendly City Food Co-op, 150 East Wolfe Street: choose from deli items and soup of the day (at the salad bar).
– The Little Grill Collective, 621 North Main Street: All-you-can-eat vegan Mexi Plate w/ vegan “cheese,” $8.
– Also, stop by Capital Ale House, 41 Court Square, for some vegan-friendly beers after your meal.
Then, come out for a FREE screening of the film Vegucated at Court Square Theater (61 Graham Street), starting at 7:30 pm. Part sociological experiment and part adventure comedy, Vegucated is an award-winning, guerrilla-style documentary that follows three meat- and cheese-loving New Yorkers who agree to adopt a vegan diet for six weeks. Can their convictions carry them through when times get tough? Check out the Vegucated movie trailer here: http://tinyurl.com/vegucatedpeek.
Be sure to come early to Court Square Theater. Starting at 6:30 pm, there will be free vegan smoothies from PULP and vegan baked treats, information, samples, and coupons in the theater lobby. Discussion will follow the film…and we will have door prizes!
I am so excited by the support that has already been generated for Vegan Night Out. With so much good food, a fun film, and friendship to be had, I hope everyone will come for a taste of vegan living.
Justin Van Kleeck is the creator and organizer of Vegan Night Out in downtown Harrisonburg, as well as the Assistant Manager of the Harrisonburg Farmers Market and the Director of Training and Education at the Staunton Creative Community Fund.
Vegan Night Out logo designed by Ariana Witt.