News Column

Orlando-area Vegans Say Animal-free Is Way to Be

July 11, 2012

Arelis R. Hernandez

Once upon a time, veggies burgers tasted like cardboard and soy dogs were mush. But a surging market for cruelty-free foods has made going vegan painless for both animals and humans.

The influx of better-tasting, animal-free food products at local supermarkets and restaurants has taken a marginally-accepted diet to the mainstream.

It's now easy and delicious to grill a burger made of soy and gluten or roast s'mores made of dairy-free marshmallows, according to Orlando-area vegans.

About 15 vegans gathered Saturday for an Independence Day potluck hosted by the Central Florida chapter of the Animal Rights Foundation of Florida.

"It has become more affordable and socially acceptable to be a vegan. It's great because people didn't used to talk about it," said chapter coordinator Brian Wilson. "Vegan is the kindest way to be."

Wilson and his wife Carla hold the annual event hoping to attract meat-eaters who may want to explore veganism and bring closeted vegans out. No eggs, honey, dairy or meat are in any of the foods prepared for the picnic.

For Dina Ortiz, the potluck was her first vegan meal. She has had to limit her meat intake for health reasons and accompanied her daughter Keila Villegas, who has been an animal rights activist and vegan for four years, to the get a taste of a meatless hot dog. She loved it.

"It's a little sacrifice but I really admire my daughter and I support her," Ortiz said, adding she is open to incorporating vegan alternatives to her traditional Puerto Rican dishes.

Source: (c)2012 The Orlando Sentinel (Orlando, Fla.) Distributed by MCT Information Services

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