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Local vegetarians gather to enjoy meat-free T-Day

Ron Richard would rather adopt a turkey than eat one. The assistant organizer of F-M Veg, a local vegetarian group, said Thanksgiving doesn't have to be the meat-centered holiday it's made out to be. "People say we can't be festive without the ha...

Marlys Mertz

Ron Richard would rather adopt a turkey than eat one.

The assistant organizer of

F-M Veg, a local vegetarian group, said Thanksgiving doesn't have to be the meat-centered holiday it's made out to be.

"People say we can't be festive without the ham, but this is a counterpoint to that," Richard said.

He said most people envision turkey and ham when thinking of holiday meals, but F-M Veg aims to shift people's perspectives on eating meat.

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The group recently hosted a Thanksgiving potluck to celebrate its meat-free lifestyle, including dishes of stuffed peppers, linguine with mushrooms and spiced cranberry rolls.

Richard said that realizing holiday meals can be fulfilling without meat can be a breakthrough for people.

Jeff Larson brought a cranberry cake to the potluck. He identifies as vegan, which means he does not use or consume animal products of any kind.

"There aren't very many restaurants here that are vegan-friendly," Larson said.

A need for camaraderie and like-minded individuals drew Larson to F-M Veg.

Kathleen Keene joined for similar reasons. She said she was relieved to discover the group existed.

The group has close to 100 members in the Fargo-Moorhead area, Richard said. When the group first met last August, there were 25 people involved. The group strives to fill a need for fellowship by venturing out to vegetarian-friendly eateries and hosting events such as holiday potlucks.

"This really represents the tip of the iceberg," he said. "There is a growing awareness about this. It's a progressive idea."

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Chef Andrea Baumgardner co-owns The Green Market in Fargo. When her delicatessen opened, she made it a point to offer vegetarian and vegan-friendly options for a growing clientele.

It hasn't always been easy, she said.

"I think it takes a little bit more effort, if you're a cook and you're not personally vegetarian," Baumgardner said. "People don't have enough familiarity with it."

She said she sees an increase in customers around the holidays. Although not open on Thanksgiving, The Green Market offers takeout options, which many customers make use of, she said.

Larson has been a vegan for more than seven years. He said his choice to switch his dietary lifestyle came out of growing concerns about the welfare of animals.

"It's tough to break free from that mentality," he said. "Old habits are hard to break."

As Fargo-Moorhead's population continues to increase, Baumgardner said it makes sense to offer a variety of meat-free options.

For Richard, it's simple to see how satisfying a meat-free holiday meal can be.

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"The proof of the pudding is in the tasting," he said. "This is a time for new traditions."

If anything, trying out a turkey-less Thanksgiving can be an experiment in energy, Baumgardner noted.

"Maybe you won't feel like napping for the rest of the day," she said.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Kim Winnegge at (701) 241-5524

Local vegetarians gather to enjoy meat-free T-Day Kim Winnegge 20071122

Marlys Mertz

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