at least it’s not a “top 10” list

So I’ve tried and failed to avoid using the new year as an opportunity to look back and ahead.

Stopping to think about it, so much has happened this year, for me personally and all things vegan in general. Seriously, it’s not just because I live in the Portland bubble; the word “vegan” has reached so many this year. Oprah may have planted a serious seed a couple of years ago, and there’s always Ellen, but news of Bill Clinton’s sorta-vegan diet was everywhere. Now, I don’t totally understand why PETA named him Person of the Year—imagine that, me disagreeing with PETA—his plant-based, dairy-free (a bit o’ fish and who knows from eggs) diet is or was purely for health reasons. I have no problem with anyone choosing a vegan diet for health reasons, but PETA is about the Ethical Treatment of Animals, right? I don’t see Clinton’s message of compassion anywhere; he just wants to be able to play with his theoretical grandchildren.

I know I’m outing myself here, but in one episode of “Glee,” they said “vegan” twice, and not making fun of it, just in passing. Finn mentions the vegan meatballs at Breadsticks, and Kurt serves his dad vegan carrot soup. I also heard “vegan” in the season finale of “Venture Bros.,” and we got to see actual vegan police in “Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World.”

Pop culture aside, 2010 was an exciting time for the vegan cheese wars. Who still hasn’t tried Daiya? Chicago Soy Dairy retooled their Teese, and We Can’t Say it’s Cheese and Nacho Mom’s Vegan Queso have all made a huge push as of late. Battle on, say I, battle on. Gardein’s fakey chicken is popping up in grocery stores everywhere, and while most of it is a little too eerily meaty for me, it’s an incredible option. And what are there now, eight varieties of Earth Balance?

Personally, I went from a happily isolated, behind-the-keyboard vegan blogger to a rather busy gal interacting face-to-face with the vegan community. I joined the planning committee of Vegan Iron Chef, a little fundraiser for Try Vegan PDX that burst right out of its britches, Hulk-style. Now it’s a standalone nonprofit, and as soon as we can afford it and have a week locked away in a cave we can officially become a 501(c)(3). We’re putting the final touches on the website, and there’s already a quick guide to help you put on a competition in your own city. Two days from now we’ll be having our first planning meeting for our next competition and getting the news out on our first fundraiser for the year (an open-to-the-public casserole competition).

Also huge is my involvement with the first vegan blog conference, Vida Vegan, with Janessa and Jess (who also made me get on twitter). We’ve got an amazing bunch of speakers and registrants from all over the country, Canada, the U.K., Germany—even Thailand! I know there’s still a lot—no, A LOT—of work to do, but I’m so excited to bring all these vegan bloggers together to learn and eat and play. We’ll all walk away ready to produce cleaner and better-written sites, add fun stuff like videos and podcasts, and see ourselves as members of a larger community. So yeah, lots to look forward to.

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