VEGAN STREET HAS BEEN BUILDING AND PROMOTING THE VEGAN COMMUNITY FOR THE LAST 25 YEARS. WE NEED YOUR HELP TO KEEP BUILDING FOR THE NEXT 25 YEARS AND BEYOND.
October 15, 2023 Twenty-five years ago today, we (Marla and John) launched VeganStreet.com. We’d been planning it for about a year – imagining the vision of it, what it would encapsulate, our voice and our dreams – before we went live on this weird thing that we could only guess at the potential of, the Internet. A destination was typed onto a keyboard and then the person sitting in front of a screen could be transported anywhere, in our case, a place where the vegan world was not dormant but burgeoning, where we were on the precipice of getting the concept widely adopted, a signal to the rest of the world that a more compassionate and sustainable future was in our grasp today. As we have done so many times before and after, we believed that we could vision this reality into being, but, of course, just imagining wasn’t enough. We had to work and we had to build. From our beautiful old apartment in the Humboldt Park neighborhood of Chicago, Marla wrote and John designed. Marla sat in her adorable little pink office and John sat at his drawing table by the balcony and we created this world called Vegan Street. Our jobs were in humane education (Marla) and creative direction (John), but when the work day was over, we got to return to building this world. On October 15, 1998, three years after we’d gone vegan ourselves and determined that this was our life’s work, we pressed launch and our lives have never been the same.
We were lucky enough to have Internet access. Even though it was AOL dial up with the absolute worst sounds it would be hard to beat in terms of pure obnoxiousness, we didn’t know any better, but, more significantly, when we heard that "hiss, boingy-boingy" cacophony and then saw the words, “Connected” with the little robotic figure running, our little hearts would spill over with excitement. When enough neighbors were offline and neither of us were on the landline, we could sketch out this world at night in 30-minute increments until we’d be unceremoniously and without warning kicked off the Internet, which is part of what has given me my lifelong anxiety about saving what I’ve written as often as possible. (Even though Google Drive, which is what I use for writing, automatically saves, you all, I am still so paranoid.)
All those years ago, though, we launched and didn’t know what we’d find on the other side of it. What we found rather quickly was people from all over the globe who were also trying to build a more compassionate world. Before long, I had a penpal in Uruguay, a gay, teenage vegan who was overjoyed to have someone who understood him. I had people I nurtured bonds with on message boards and emails whom I met in person and we were like longtime friends. We had people we planned activism with, we started organizations with, we worked with to bring some of the first vegan speaking events to Chicago. It was a wild and exciting time and seeing the possibilities with reach, something we could have only dreamed of as former pamphleteers, just made us more certain that Vegan Street was what we were meant to do. We eventually started doing Vegan Street full-time, first me, then John. Though there were periods where the website was dormant, we always kept the URL alive because we knew we’d return to it. When social media expanded potential reach exponentially, we were once again exhilarated with the possibilities.
It’s kind of hard to look back at us and not feel a little embarrassed and silly about how naive and overly optimistic we were at times. The social media we saw endless possibilities with is punishing and exploitative of creators, the people who built the platforms, making it very hard for one’s work to be seen these days. The community we once rejoiced in can be so unproductive, mean and hurtful. The ease with which we can be turned into passive scrollers, endlessly seeking the next thing that resembles a dopamine hit, is beyond scary. Our collective inability to have disagreements without character assassination or scorched earth is also frightening. We used to be able to disagree and not despise each other. I remember that time.
But here’s the thing…we still have hope.
We are still creating every week.
We still hear from kind people all over the world who are trying to make the world a better place.
We are still dedicated to making the dream of a more compassionate, more just world a reality.
We are still, for the most part, those hopeful, creative idealists in that beautiful old apartment in Humboldt Park. We are keeping the dream alive. We are still more optimistic than resigned to accepting the worst outcomes because we have seen how people light up when they find something bigger than themselves to live for, to expand into, to cultivate. Yes, like everyone, we’re a little bruised and battle-weary but we’re more resilient and better resourced for it. Here’s to the next 25 years. We’re not going anywhere. Thanks for being with us.
. . .
We launched VeganStreet.com in 1998 and it has grown into one of the most significant vegan websites in the world, providing information and inspiration to millions of people, which includes a reach of more than 65½ million people in 2022 on Facebook alone.
Since our inception, we have created thousands of effective artistic and creative works, and have offered useful tools and tips that help people become and stay vegan by nurturing, strengthening and promoting the growing community including:
More than 1,300 Vegan Street Memes, which are mini-posters that describe the various reasons to become and stay vegan.
More than 400 original recipesfor every occasion and skill level.
A free comprehensive and frequently updated Guide for New Vegansthat helps the reader navigate every aspect of choosing and maintaining a compassionate diet and lifestyle.
And we recently added a new online store that is full of clothing and other high-quality products all featuring our original Vegan Street message gear, as well as several books and cookbooks we have written and published, and allow people to promote veganism as they just live their lives.
All this time, we have done our best to be a indefatigable voice and cheerleader for the movement: celebrating, promoting and supporting hundreds of vegan organizations, businesses, leaders and causes along the way and helping them raise tens of thousands dollars and attract new donors, members and customers.
. . .
Vegan Street is just two people: Marla and myself.
We are able do all this partly because we lead a thrifty and resourceful lifestyle. We run the whole operation from our houseand we support ourselves and our work by doing writing, design and marketing work for vegan businesses and organizations during the time we’re not working on Vegan Street.
We have no staff and virtually no outside funding. We have no financial support from foundations, corporations, celebrities or wealthy donors. The only predictable and reliable outside funding we receive is from our small group of loyal Patreon patrons.
. . .
Our question to you: Do you believe that this content is of value to helping build a more compassionate world?
We are really committed and resilient activists but we could use more Patreon support for the work we create, which takes time and money from us.
It would mean so much to us if you joined our Patreon community to help make this content creation sustainable.
We have more than 300,000 followers, thousands of subscribers to our mailing list and countless people who regularly use and share our content, but we have only 77 Patreon supporters.
Could you help us to reach our goal of adding 30 new Patreon supporters?
We are deeply grateful for every donor and every penny we receive, and it stretches far, not paying salaries but buying ingredients for the recipes we create to share to the public and spending more dedicated time creating these works. Your Patreon support directly helps us to focus on our mission of building a healthier, more peaceful, more just, more compassionate and more sustainable world.
We have big ideas and plans for 2023 and beyond, but it will take a lot of effort on our part to bring them to fruition. We know you all have your own challenges and most of you are already committed to doing your own work to save animals and the planet. But we would really appreciate it if you would consider tossing a dollar or two a week into our Patreon account or making a one-time donation to our PayPal account (email@example.com).
We would also be grateful if you could share this message or our story with your friends and loved ones.
TL;DR? Vegan Street has worked hard to build a vibrant vegan community, and we are asking for some support to help continue this work via Patreon.
Thank you so much!
John (and Marla)
HERE ARE A FEW MORE WAYS TO CONNECT WITH VEGAN STREET
veganstreet.com is one of the INTERNET'S first vegan websites. We have been creating community-building vegan content to the world since 1998.