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The Vegan Living Program:
Free education for new vegans and the vegan-curious!

vlp 2013 launch dayThe Vegan Living Program (VLP) is a series of educational events that cover the hows and whys of vegan living, including the ethical and environmental implications of vegan lifestyles, nutrition, cooking, meal planning, and living vegan in a not-yet-vegan world.

Each spring, we host Vegan Pledges who pledge to live vegan for the 5-week program, with the help of volunteer Vegan Coaches who have lived vegan for a year or more. Vegan Pledges receive a binder full of resources and recipes, and a goody bag of free vegan stuff to make the transition easier and more fun!

vlpThis past Spring/Summer, we brought you the fourth annual Vegan Living Program Vegan Pledge in Baltimore, Maryland, and we debuted the first Vegan Living Program on Long Island, New York in conjunction with Karuna for Animals: Compassion in Action. The Pledge takes place once a year, however OTCA runs educational events on vegan living from Spring through Autumn. In the summer and autumn, Open the Cages Alliance presents more educational events, lectures, social events and cooking demonstrations to keep the community going! Please see below for reports from this year's events.

Veganism Support Meetup June 2014Join us at the Veganism Support Meetup Group!

The goal of the Veganism Support Meetup group is to provide a safe space for people to express their passion, excitement, trials, disappointments, successes, difficulties, challenges and triumphs while trying to live a vegan lifestyle. There is a vegan potluck and a differrent discussion topic each month. The discussion topic for the August 2014 Meetup was: "The Vegan Journey - Where Has It Taken You?" Sign up and stay tuned! The Veganism Support Meetup group is a SAFE SPACE where everyone is invited to share their thoughts, opinions and questions in a non-judgmental, guilt-free environment. Join this group online at www.meetup.com/supportingvegans.

Photos and Reports from our educational events...

Rachel SaxonCooking with Tofu and Seitan!

September 20th, 2014 - Thanks to Rachel Saxon of We Call It Love for her great presentation on Cooking with Tofu and Seitan Saturday September 20th in Baltimore! Rachel explained the different kinds of tofu and how to blend, scramble and bake them into delicious dishes! We also learned how seitan is made from wheat gluten, and ways to prepare it to achieve different textures and flavors. Attendees enjoyed food by We Call It Love vegan catering. Thanks to all who joined us! Please see the full photo album here.

This was our last post-Pledge event in the 2014 Vegan Living Program in Baltimore. We appreciate everyone who came together to make this year's program happen! Please stay tuned to our Facebook page for information on more upcoming events, and dates for the 2015 Vegan Living Program as the details unfold.

Afternoon of Family FunAn Afternoon of Family Fun with OTCA!

September 6th, 2014 - Thanks to everyone who joined us for An Afternoon of Family Fun! There were crafts and other activities for kids. Young artists worked on crafts including masks depicting animal friends.

We were thrilled to host local musician Bob Pyle for kids' songs. Bob's work is featured on "RISE UP," a compilation of animal rights songs, and he has released two albums of his own: "Apples & Oranges" (2004) and "When J. Edgar Hoover Wore A Dress" (2008). We also welcomed Luz Villar of Enlightening Bellies, LLC for a vegan bag lunch making demo. Enlightening Bellies is a local catering company that prepares and serves tasty vegan foods. View the full photo album here.

Chef Greg BrownCooking Vegan - A Kid-Friendly Cooking Demo with Chef Greg Brown!

August 16th, 2014 - We were thrilled to host Chef Greg Brown of The Land of Kush for this energetic and informative cooking demonstration at the Enoch Pratt Central Library August 16th, 2014! Chef Greg showed us how to make several quick and easy dishes to please young palates (callaloo, fried bananas, and apple sauce to name a few), and talked with us about the importance of engaging young people in the kitchen. We're so grateful for the chance to host Chef Greg, and thank everyone who joined us for this fun event! View the full photo album here.

VLP 2014 Nuts & Bolts DemoNuts & Bolts of Vegan Living Workshop!

July 21, 2014 - Thanks to everyone who attended Open the Cages Alliance's Nuts & Bolts of Vegan Living Workshop Monday July 21st at Govans Presbyterian Church! We presented some tips and tricks for starting quick, inexpensive meals, and mimicking the taste and mouthfeel of conventional recipes with innovative vegan ingredients. Kyle Harvey of Alternative Cultures Foods taught us about making our own delicious vegan cheeses at home. Attendees sampled spreadable vegan "cheese," vegan "cheese" sauce over pasta, raspberry smoothies with homemade soy yogurt, spicy black bean soup, daal, vegan mac-n-"cheese," and oat-date-nut bars.

See the photo album here.

Juicing & Smoothie DemoJuicing & Smoothie Demo with Ayo Nzinga of Grind House Juice Bar!

July 12, 2014 - Thanks to Ayo Nzinga of Grind House Juice Bar for a wonderful Juicing & Smoothie Workshop! We learned about combining and measuring fruits and veggies successfully, and attendees were able to sample some wonderful, freshly-made creations. Big thanks to Ayo for sharing tips and tricks for making healthy, delicious juices and smoothies at home. Grind House Juice Bar will be moving to the old Yabba Pot location (2431 St. Paul Street in Baltimore) onAugust 11th, 2014! Like their Facebook page for all the latest news.

See the photo album here.

Nakia's Raw Foods Demo 2014Raw Vegan Food Demo with Nakia's Peace of Life!

June 14, 2014 - Thanks to Nakia Porter of Nakia's Peace of Life for presenting a Raw Vegan Food Demo! Nakia's Peace of Life has a commitment to helping families improve their health and wellness through nutritious and "oh so delicious" living foods. At the demonstration, volunteers were able to participate in making kale salad, healthy smoothies, and other delicious raw vegan foods. We learned about "waking up" the enzymes in nuts through soaking, "massaging" kale to help make a flavorful kale salad, combining fresh and dried veggies/herbs to create complex flavors, and getting the maximum nutrition out of fruits and veggies.

See the photo album here.

Bey Veganize ItKyle Veganize It"Veganize It!" Cooking Demonstration

On Saturday May 17th, 2014, Open the Cages Alliance hosted a "Veganize It!" Cooking Demonstration with Ihsan Bey (Chef Bey of Son Dey Vegan Brunch) and Kyle Harvey of Alternative Cultures vegan cheesecake. We learned about mimicking the taste, mouthfeel, and total experience of traditional favorites, using all vegan ingredients. Kyle demonstrated vegan cheeses that melt, spread and stretch. Ihsan demonstrated a vegan "seafood" salad, Rasta potatoes, and breakfast food including tofu scramble and vegan "sausage." Thanks to our speakers for the engaging presentation, and for wowing us all with delicious food! View the full album here.

Veganism & Spirituality Group PhotoGroup Discussion: Veganism and Spirituality

Thank you to Meg Graney and Ihsan Bey for facilitating a wonderful discussion on vegan living and spirituality! This was a thought-provoking and intense discussion with a great group of people. The contributions the attendees brought to this event were quite powerful -- thank you all for being part of this...and to We Call It Love catering for bringing delicious vegan food! See the photo album here.

Photos and Reports from the 2014 VLP Vegan Pledge...

VLP 2014 Launch dayVLP 2014 Launch Day!

At Day One of the 2014 Vegan Living Program in Baltimore, Vegan Pledges and Coaches had some time to meet and mingle, and then we got things started with a vegan cooking demonstration. We demonstrated the preparation of kale salad, coconut bean curry, apple chips, crunchy spiced chickpeas, and marinated baked tofu. Click here to view the full album!

 

VLP 2014 Meatout VSM webVeganism Support Meetup in Celebration of Meatout!

On March 20, a Veganism Support Meetup was held in celebration of the 30th annual Meatout, a campaign by Farm Animal Rights Movement (FARM) (www.farmusa.org). Meatout is an international observance helping individuals evolve to a wholesome, compassionate vegan diet. The goal of the Veganism Support Meetup group is to provide a safe space for people to express their passion, excitement, trials, disappointments, successes, difficulties, challenges and triumphs while trying to live a vegan lifestyle. Join this group at www.meetup.com/supportingvegans. Click here to view the full album!

Dr. Ruby LathonVLP 2014 Session 2: Vegan Nutrition with Dr. Ruby Lathion!

On Saturday March 22nd, we hosted Dr. Ruby Lathon at session 2 of our 2014 Vegan Living Program in Baltimore! Dr. Lathon is a Holistic Health and Wellness Educator (www.RubyLathon.com). She gave an info-packed, myth-busting presentation on vegan nutrition, along with practical tips for healthy meal planning. Dr. Lathon also shared her inspiring story of health empowerment and healing through vegan nutrition. Thank you, Dr. Lathon! 

Be sure to check out Dr. Lathon's YouTube Channel, The Veggie Chest

Click here to view the full album!

 

Chef Greg Brown from The Land of KushVegan Cooking Demo: "Cooking with Beer!"

On Tuesday March 25th, Chef Greg Brown from The Land Of Kush presented a "Cooking with Beer" vegan cooking demonstration for 2014 Vegan Pledges and many more lucky attendees. Why lucky? Because we got to sample delicious beer-battered onion rings, beer-braised seitan with dumplings, and other delicious recipes made with (you guessed it!) vegan beer. This was a Baltimore Vegan Drinks event in conjunction with the 2014 Vegan Living Program, and was held at Local Color Flowers in Baltimore. For help finding vegan beer, wine and liquor, visit Barnivore.com.

Thanks so much to Baltimore Vegan Drinks and The Land of Kush for all their support for our Vegan Pledges!

 

VLP 2014 Session 3 024 WebVLP 2014 Session 3: Vegan Living & the Environment + Close-up on Aquatic Life!

At Session 3 of the Vegan Living Program in Baltimore, we welcomed Demosthenes Maratos of the Sustainability Institute at Molloy College to give a talk on Vegan Living & the Environment. Demosthenes has worked in the field of environmental and public policy since 1989. We also hosted Mary Finelli, founder of Fish Feel, to present a Close-Up on Aquatic Life. Fish Feel is the sole organization devoted exclusively to promoting the recognition of fish as sentient beings deserving of respect and protection.

Click here to view the full album!

Juicy Vegan Social 2014Juicy Vegan Social!

On Thursday April 3rd, we got together for a Juicy Vegan Social at Grind House Juice Bar! This casual social event was held in conjunction with the 2014 Vegan Living Program in Baltimore, and was a chance for Pledges, Coaches, attendees, organizers and any interested folks to meet and mingle over delicious vegan food, juices and smoothies. Thanks to everyone who joined us! Click here to view the full album!

 

VLP 2014 Session 4 Brenda SandersVLP 2014 Session 4 "Making the Connection: Sustaining Veganism by Understanding the Big Picture"

On Saturday April 5th, Brenda Sanders of Open the Cages Alliance and the organization Better Health Better Life was our featured speaker at Session 5 of the 2014 Vegan Living Program in Baltimore. Brenda's lecture was titled "Making the Connection: Sustaining Veganism by Understanding the Big Picture." In this powerful talk, Brenda connected veganism to issues many of us care about, and presented vegan living as an empowering daily practice to dismantle the Power Over Others Program. Brenda's talk received a standing ovation from attendees. Thank you, Brenda! Click here to view the full album!

VLP 2014 Nicole @ PSASVLP Session 5 Trip to Poplar Spring Animal Sanctuary!

On Saturday April 12th, Vegan Living Program participants took a trip to Poplar Spring Animal Sanctuary in Poolesville, Maryland. Poplar Spring Animal Sanctuary is a 400 acre non-profit refuge for farm animals and wildlife located in Poolesville, Maryland. Their mission is to offer care, rehabilitation, and permanent sanctuary for neglected, abused or abandoned farm animals, provide protected habitat for wildlife, furnish information to the public regarding farm animal and wildlife issues, and promote compassion and humane treatment for all animals. Please visit www.animalsanctuary.org and support their lifesaving work!

 

VLP 2014 Graduation BaltimoreVegan Pledge Graduation!

On Saturday April 19th, we concluded the 2014 VLP Vegan Pledge in Baltimore with Vegan Pledge Graduation! OTCA organizers prepared a celebratory meal for 2014 participants. Many of us shared our reflections on this year's program, and certificates of completion were presented to Vegan Pledges! Congratulations, everyone! Huge THANK YOUs to all the Vegan Pledges, Coaches, speakers, volunteers and supporters who made this program possible! OTCA has educational and social events scheduled through September, so please join us! The VLP community also continues to get together through the Veganism Support Meetup. See you soon! Click here to view the full Graduation album.


Join the Veganism Support Meetup Group!

vsm may 2013 2x shrunkThe Vegan Living Program Community continues to grow and get together all year round through the Veganism Support Meetup Group! Please join the Meetup group here. This Meetup group is not just for VLP participants; it's for anyone who wants to give or receive support for their vegan or aspiring vegan lifestyle...or just ask questions in a friendly, supportive environment!

Have a question? Want more info? Email info@openthecages.org or call (443) 478-3074.

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