Tabitha Logan was finishing clean-up from a potluck dinner at 1 a.m. when she stumbled across “magic.”
It took the form of “magic green bean casserole.” Someone had brought it to the potluck. There was some left.
She tried it. She’d never tasted anything like it before. “I didn’t even know this casserole existed” at the potluck earlier that night. She didn’t know what ingredients gave it that cheese-like texture or that crunch (water chestnuts?). Whatever it was, her taste buds thrilled.
Logan made that discovery at the most recent monthly Greater New Haven vegan potluck dinner, held at a Unitarian Universalist church on Whitney Avenue. She organizes the potlucks — and activities for the area’s vegan community — in part so people can make those kinds of discoveries in the quest for cruelty-free cooking, eating and shopping.
She has been organizing vegan events for more than two years now, and they’re growing. The first monthly potluck had three participants; the Thanksgiving pot luck at the Unitarian church had 60.
This weekend she is helping to stage a three-day “Compassionfest Vegan Holiday Bazaar,” one of two annual vegan events held at the Whitneyville Cultural Commons. The first event had 30 vendors. Fifty-three vendors have signed up for this edition, hawking gifts, clothes, and foods containing no animal products and having resulted from no testing on animals. Seventeen of those vendors will have vegan foods for sale; the first event had only three.
Click here and here for details about the event, which begins Friday evening and features a talk by technologist and human-rights activist Karen Stevenson, a staged reading of a multidsciplinary work-in-progress by David Brensilver, a presentation by raw chef and herbalist Tyrnne Love, and a live podcast by the hosts of The Bearded Vegans.
Logan, who is 35, lives in Branford. A former working barber, she today runs a cruelty-free (soy and hemp-oil-based; no beeswax) candle business out of her home called Hipponotic. (She donates 5 percent of her proceeds to Wild Hippos, a group protecting Zimbabwean hippos from hunters.) She went vegetarian at 15 while growing up in New Hampshire.
“I didn’t want to eat anything with a face,” she recalled. “It grossed me out.”
In her 20s she went fully vegan, which means she eats no dairy or eggs, let alone meat or fish. Since then, the world around her has changed: More vegan restaurants, like Branford’s G-Zen right near her home, have opened, and other restaurants have expanded vegan offerings. The vegan-food and vegan-shopping markets have exploded. Even Amtrak started offering a vegan burger in its cafe. A new generation of vegan activists and organizers like Logan has grown around the world; besides organizing the potlucks and bazaars and selling her candles, Logan publishes a zine called Vegasm Orgazine.
She spoke about her journey, the local vegan community, and ethical questions on an episode of WNHH FM’s “Dateline New Haven.”
Click on or download the above audio file and the Facebook Live video below for the full interview. Among the questions tackled: Honey, or no honey? How to handle imposing on friends who are cooking dinner for a group of non-vegans? How to balance vegan concerns with larger questions of social justice?