Founded in Bend in 2008 by Judy Petullo, VegNet Bend is a local nonprofit that raises awareness about the benefits of a plant-based diet for reasons including health, animal rights and Earth preservation.
It all started six months after Petullo lost her daughter in a car accident. "I was walking downtown and saw a pamphlet on the conditions of animals-for-slaughter. I knew I couldn't support that any longer, and I had to do something about it," she says. "I could relate to their pain." She formed VegNet Bend with the goal of spreading the word through events and community.
The organization makes it a point to involve the public through regular vegan potlucks that are open to the whole community. The invite is for all, and meat eaters are welcome, even encouraged, to come and try the many plant-based food options that exist. It is a good chance to collaborate on ideas and share recipes with like-minded folks. Recently, this nonprofit hosted an event at the Tower Theatre for its Spring Wellness Jumpstart with the screening of the film "PlantPure Nation," which speaks to the importance of eliminating animal product in diets, the health benefits, and the political side of the issue.
"With the information I had 27 years ago, my immediate thoughts were that I was going to be less healthy," says Petullo. However, "It was just the opposite," she says. "I wouldn't be here today if I hadn't made that change," she says, discussing the chest pains she used to have almost on a daily basis that disappeared after adopting a vegan diet.
Plant-based diets have environmental benefits as well. It takes 14 gallons of water to produce a pound of wheat compared to 441 gallons to produce a pound of meat. For more information about VegNet Bend, visit its website, Facebook page or the VegNet-Bend Meetup Group.