When Larayn Clegg heard about New York City’s Vegan Drinks, a monthly social for vegans and the vegan-curious, she planned her trip to the Big Apple around the night. “I went and it was fabulous,” she says. “I just wished so much that there was something like that in Utah.”
A few months later, Larayn made that wish come true. She started Salt Lake City’s branch of Vegan Drinks in January of 2009. The event just celebrated its third anniversary last week.
Vegan Drinks started with about a dozen people gathering at the Vertical Diner to enjoy delicious animal-product-free food, discuss animal-rights issues, network and simply have a good time on the first Friday of every month. Later, the event relocated to the W Lounge, where it has been held ever since. Now the event draws around 60 people, who fill the bar counter with their (mostly) homemade vegan dishes for a potluck.
“The food’s always great,” says Nkenna Onwuzuruoha, “You get a different variety—bread, pasta, rice, vegetables, of course, and fruit.” Not to mention more exotic fare such as chocolate kale chips and carrot butter.
Everyone slaps on a name tag when they get there, which encourages people to mingle and meet new people. For some, this is the true draw of the night. Bryce Draper, a Vegan Drinks regular, says “It’s the best place to meet other vegans. We all know there are a lot of vegans in Salt Lake [City], and it’s the best place to meet them.”
“Shout Outs” happen near the end of the night, when people are encouraged to speak about their vegan-friendly business or community event. This gives business owners, volunteers and activists planning protests a chance to get exposure. It also allows others present to find out what’s happening in the vegan community and how to support it. Clegg says, “It’s a very supportive community. I have met the most passionate activists and individuals here [in Salt Lake City].”
“Shout Outs” are also now reposted on the new Website, SLCvegandrinks.weebly.com, to garner even more exposure. Vegan Drinks was where Clegg first announced the opening of the vegan food cart, Union Street Eats, she co-owns with her partner, James Mouritsen. It no doubt played a role in the success of the cart, which will be reopening with a winter menu at the beginning of February in Washington Square Park, across the street from the downtown library.
Clegg can hardly believe that Vegan Drinks is going into its fourth year in Salt Lake City. She hopes to keep the vegan white Russians flowing into the New Year and even add some new activities, such as an animal rights/vegan book exchange.
“It’s my hope to get new and old vegans to get together and give support to those interested in the vegan lifestyle and to come together and celebrate veganism,” she says.
(Photo from SLCVeganDrinks.weebly.com)