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Compassionate Muffins: Local Vegan Group Compassion for Animals Engineers Global Bake Sale

Gary Loewenthal’s Worldwide Vegan Bake Sale – a week-long initiative of more than 75 bake sales across four continents and at least 12 U.S. States running from June 20 till 28 – started with humble intentions, and very modest efforts.bake-sale

Gary Loewenthal’s Worldwide Vegan Bake Sale – a week-long initiative of more than 75 bake sales across four continents and at least 12 U.S. States running from June 20 till 28 – started with humble intentions, and very modest efforts.

bake-sale

A WORLDWIDE VEGAN BAKE SALE, like the one here in Vancouver, Canada which offered 10 varieties of delectables last week, will come to Falls Church on June 27. (Photo: Courtesy Gary Loewenthal)

Loewenthal and the Falls Church-based group he helped spearhead, Compassion for Animals, first held a bake sale several months ago, in April, outside Falls Church City’s City Hall.

“It sold out,” the 22-year resident of Falls Church told the News-Press. The popular bake sale was the self-described vegan activist’s trial run for the global step, “a combination between raising funds and gaining experience,” Loewenthal said.

The Falls Church bake sale, slated for next Saturday, June 27, at the Falls Church City Community Center, will feature baked goods – brownies, cookies, pies and the like – from a dozen or so independent bakers, as well as from Natalia’s Elegant Creations and Mike’s Deli, owned by local animal-friendly business partners David and Rebecca Tax.

Now, the global bake sale will involve dozens of groups, from boy scout troops to churches, in raising funds for all sorts of causes, some relating to the meatless diet and way of life, others not at all.

Loewenthal, who has been a vegan five years now, described the bake sale as Compassion for Animals’ latest advocacy effort. “It’s amazing how much life revolves around food,” he said. “Doing outreach around food is profound, and somewhat disarming.”

Though raising funds for myriad causes, the bake sales are designed to show the versatility and endless possibilities of the vegan diet, which is void of any product derived from animals. As far as baking goes, Loewenthal explained, that means, at the very least, no dairy or eggs.

The concept came about when Loewenthal and Compassion for Animal’s team of “middle-aged, seasoned activists” were brainstorming ideas for a “friendly outreach activity.”

“Someone said ‘bake sale,’ and I loved the idea,” Loewenthal said.

After researching large-scale, charity-oriented bake sales, Loewenthal liked the “Great American Bake Sale” model, run by Domino and C&H sugar companies to combat childhood hunger in the U.S., and used the “Share our Strength” campaign as a starting point for the Worldwide Vegan Bake Sale.

 

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Vegan activist and bake sale organizer Gary Loewenthal. (Photo: News-Press)

“The first thing I thought about was, what charity do we pick?” said Loewenthal, who decided that the best approach would be allowing the individual bake sales to choose their charities. He added, “If I picked one, someone would be upset. There are lots of causes the bake sales will help, and we do need to coordinate. The project seemed great in its simplicity.”

Bringing life to a worldwide endeavor, however, has been anything but simplistic for Loewenthal, who has invested months in planning with groups across the globe.

With his open-arms approach, Loewenthal began the bake sale initiative by e-mailing the “core constituents” of vegan activism – animal advocacy groups like D.C.-region Compassion over Killing, and other interested parties which sell vegan goods, such as Natalia’s.

But The Worldwide Vegan Bake Sale aimed for a broader audience, Loewenthal explained. E-mails  went out to scout troops, churches, temples, mosques, school clubs – anyone who wanted to partake in raising vegan awareness and dough.

“People started responding right away,” said Loewenthal. “The response has been way better than I had expected.”

The group’s initial, humble goal of 30 bake sales broke the 75 barrier as support poured in from local groups, and then the not-so-local. Most are in the U.S., but one has been arranged in Nigeria, and on four continents overall.

“The first place to register was a small vegan business in New Zealand, called Angel Food,” Loewenthal said, adding that was when it occurred to him: “I thought, wow, we are worldwide!”

The registered bake sales run the gamut, from vegan and vegan-friendly businesses, preschool punk rock shows to a Los Angeles city councilman and a self-labeled “radical” sci-fi convention in Chicago. One Maryland farm animal sanctuary is raising funds for one of its former employees recently diagnosed with brain cancer.

“The creativity and work going into these great causes is amazing,” Loewenthal said.

Vegan bake sales are “good eye-openers” for non-vegetarians, Loewenthal said. “People aren’t ready for a vegan cheesecake, made from [tofu cream cheese] Tofutti, or vegan danishes, donuts, milkshakes.”

Some of the worldwide events will include entertainment and jewelry and crafts fairs, to attract curious customers.

More important, however, is introducing animal-friendly ingredients and techniques to the kitchen,  Loewenthal said. Applesauce, flax and tofu are several of the “thousands of possibilities” in the vegan pantry, he explained.

“Replacing dairy and eggs gets rid of a huge amount of violence involved in the factory farms that produce most of the products people use in baking.”

More information and registration forms are available on the Worldwide Vegan Bake Sale’s web site (www.veganbakesale.org), which includes links to sites dedicated to vegan baking and recipes, like “The Joy of Vegan Cooking.” Fact sheets and information will be available at the Saturday bake sale.

The bake sale’s web site also directs participants interested in spreading vegan cooking beyond bake sales to VegFund, a non-profit that sponsors vegan culinary tastings.

“VegFund is a great program and a fantastic concept if you want to give vegan food away at something like a church function,” Loewenthal said. VegFund provides funding for the food’s preparation, educational material and the cost of setting up the bake sale at vegan and non-vegan events.

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