Though most of this post is going to be about the Worldwide Vegan Bake Sale, I had to first share this cupcakey tidbit.
I have a good friend who is very very very far from veganism. She’s very far from considering veganism, at least considering it as something other than that one extra bit of weirdness that makes up her weird friend (me). She is a good friend regardless, and though it shocks me, she has been somewhat open to certain vegan foods. It shocks me because she’s almost the world’s pickiest eater; only my brother tops her.
The foods she has been willing to try have been: cookies, waffles, and cupcakes. The waffles and cupcakes have been huge hits, enough that it is now pretty much What We Do when we get together. We have waffles, and we make cupcakes.
The cupcakes, of course, have come from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World. I can’t remember all the ones we’ve tried, but the margarita cupcakes stand out as our favorites. She’s a big dessert person, has often dreamt (if not too seriously) about having a wedding cake business, so her love of the margarita cupcakes is no small thing, in my opinion.
Today, I got an email, in which she told me a story about her last visit to her chiropractor, who is a vegetarian. (Why, I want to know, do all my non-vegan friends end up surrounded by vegans and vegetarians? Why not me?) The chiropractor was telling her about a cupcake cookbook she’d gotten recently, and it was none other than VCTOTW. My friend recognized it right away, and was able to tell her chiropractor which were her favorites. The chiropractor hadn’t made many cupcakes yet, but is now very excited about making the margarita cupcakes. As my friend said, “I told her about the margarita cupcakes…and the choc cupcakes and just how good everything in it was.”
Yes, indeed, my can’t-imagine-she’d-ever-go-vegan friend is talking up a vegan cookbook. Advocating, if you will, in the form of vegan margarita cupcakes.
I’m going to claim that as a victory. It must count for something!
I have a sort of now-distant friend, who is the one and only person I can claim as having influenced their path to veganism. We knew each other when we lived in Denver, and she was a pastry chef by training and inclination. Food was her activism. She had some good reasoning behind it too, not just that she made the best food I have ever eaten.
She would say that the worst time to tell people the truth about their food was while they were eating it. All their walls were up, all their defenses. Even when they weren’t eating it right at that moment, the walls lingered. So the path to opening their mind, to opening that window of opportunity, was really good vegan food. You would be breaking down their preconceived assumptions about vegan food, and at the same time they’d be open to hearing about compassionate food choices. Which isn’t to say that the cost of her food was a lecture, far from it. She was creating the opportunities, masked as crepes and cakes, and sometimes people would open that door wider and ask her questions.
I don’t have the social inclinations or the patience or the talent for culinary creations, but I often think of her theory, her perspective on things. Her culinary activism. I do think it is a powerful tool. And so when I heard that Gary had helped start a phenomenon known as the Worldwide Vegan Bake Sale event, I was really excited. Especially hearing that there were events all over the world, that everyone was getting into it. It was like an avalanche of cupcakes.
I was feeling quite lazy, but also wanting to help out, so when Gary emailed me to ask if I’d take pictures at one of the events that his group was putting on, I thought it was perfect, given my apathy about baking anything and my addiction to my camera.
It was a fun day. People were buying stuff before they were even fully set up. There was a farmer’s market nearby, and so there was a lot of traffic coming through, and a lot of people were buying. And it was all kinds of people! Older, younger, men, women, vegans, and people who I don’t think had ever heard of a vegan cookie before.
One man approached, looked over the table, and said in a sort of baffled way as he pointed to the Chocolate Chocolate Chip cookies (I’m betting were from Veganomicon), “what’s the difference between these and regular cookies?”
“No eggs, no butter,” was the simple reply. After a slight pause where I think he was waiting for the rest of the explanation (it can’t be that simple, can it?), he said, “okay, I’ll take two.”
There were coconut cupakes and chocolate peanut butter squares from a local bakery, Natalia’s, that Gary worked with a year or so ago and convinced to carry vegan baked goods. There were sticky buns and dinosaur cakes and cookies and all kinds of things made by the volunteers. There was an entire cheesecake, bought in its entirety practically before it was put on the table.
Everything sold, down to the very last cookie, an hour before the event ended.
There were many conversations, and I think some of the books they brought were sold as well.
It was an exciting day, filled with awesomeness to see so many people there.
I only wish I’d been able to try a single one of those baked goods. I’d meant to buy a stash and bring them to the sanctuary the next day, but I kept putting it off, and next thing I knew, the table was empty!
I’m already looking forward to seeing how this grows for next year. There’s so much potential! From the WWVBS site:
Conservative estimate: Based on feedback so far, the first annual Worldwide Vegan Bake Sale will raise at least 25,000 dollars for various causes around the world, and will introduce nearly that many people to vegan baked goods.