Small Town Vegans

By Lauren Sprang, Board of Directors Secretary


My heart is happy. But this isn’t about me. Or at least, not just me.

It’s also about Kristin Van Epps. I met Kristin through Vegan Outreach’s Vegan Mentor Program. She’s a working mom who owns a house, has pets, and lives with family members who eat meat.

Many people can relate to her situation—you’re interested in going vegan, but you don’t have the time or money to research veganism at Whole Foods.

Vegans often live in cities where options are plentiful and veg friends are common. My husband and I live in rural central Oregon. It’s beautiful, but it’s not the vegan mecca you’ll find 150 miles over the Cascade Mountains in Portland, OR. Touristy Bend, OR has a small, but awesome vegan community, upscale grocery stores, and a couple of vegan restaurants. Kristin lives 25 minutes away in a smaller town with fewer vegan options.

Kristin had been vegetarian on and off, but the transition to vegan was more of a challenge, especially giving up cheese. The vegan cheeses and meats that help many people transition are expensive and hit-or-miss in these smaller towns. And making these kinds of alternatives at home is a skill that can seem daunting, especially if you don’t already cook.

Last spring, Kristin and I exchanged a few emails about recipes and common obstacles to going vegan. I could tell that she had plenty of creativity and persistence to make veganism work for her. When we met up for coffee, I brought some veggie cheeses, meats, and milks so she could try a selection without having to drive around, searching grocery store shelves and making decisions about what to try.

Kristin reported success with some of the items, and started figuring out more satisfying recipes on her own. By the holidays she was ready to make the side dishes vegan, and her family loved them! She says she feels healthier and her family has learned that they can eat delicious food, not just steamed vegetables. No offense to steamed vegetables, but there’s so much more available.

If you’re curious about going veg, I encourage you to sign up for Vegan Outreach’s Vegan Mentor Program. There are lots of mentors out there waiting to help you make the switch!

Vegan Outreach understands that change is hard, but going through changes with supportive people can make all the difference!

“I have been doing so well with my new eating habits, healthy lifestyle, new outlook on life. There are endless possibilities for what I can eat, and even quite a few restaurants that have vegan options! Who knew?! It’s wonderful!” — Kristin Van Epps

2 thoughts on “Small Town Vegans

  1. I live in a house of meat eaters. I also don’t know many recipes or how to make or what is vegan to eat/products to use. I don’t have much money to buy all vegan things. My wife and I live on my disability. I need someone to show me the vegan way. I really need help please!

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