By SARAH SHMERLING | Editor-in-Chief
For the fourth year, Marquez Knolls resident and longtime vegan Alicia Albek, founder of Vamos Vegan, invited a group of potluckers to celebrate Valentine’s Day with an assortment of vegan-friendly dishes.
“Our mission is to empower, inspire and support you to follow a healthy vegan lifestyle,” Albek explained to the Palisadian-Post.
Albek, who has been a vegetarian for more than 36 years, founded a vegan support and educational group about four-and-a-half years ago—around the time she switched to veganism.
“We have monthly meet ups and we have speakers from health to wellness to emotional support,” Albek said. “We educate people on the benefits and the importance—psychologically, physically and environmentally—to heal the world, heal your body.”
Albek, a mother of three children who have been vegetarian since conception, had a son who switched to an entirely plant-based diet after battling acne for six years. Albek shared that since he made the switch, the acne has cleared up—and inspired her to switch to 100 percent vegan.
“I turned vegan because it’s hypocritical not to do it,” Albek shared. “The dairy industry is so criminal to animals, it’s kind of the same thing as eating meat—you might as well forgo both.”
Albek explained that as a child, she was overweight and borderline diabetic by the time she turned 13 years old. At the age of 21, she went vegetarian and within a year, she had no lingering issues with sugar.
Vamos Vegan is open to all members of the community—regardless if they eat meat.
“People share their experience, whether it’s eating no dairy to eating less meat or no meat at all,” Albek explained. “It’s great, we’ve encouraged people and supported them to change their habits.”
The February 13 potluck featured dishes like salads, chili with beans and rice, fruits, cookies and fondue.
“I just met this guy who does crazy vegan cheeses,” Albek added. He brought an aged vegan Gouda to the dinner.
The potluck featured guest speaker Alyc Maselli, who shared the story about how her son also gave up dairy to clear his acne. Maselli, a vegan for 30 years, also shared how a plant-based lifestyle can provide “all that the body needs to flourish in health.”
Throughout the year, Albek hosts vegan tours of Ralphs, where she leads interested tour-takers through the store and explains some of the vegan finds offered.
Anyone interested in taking a private or group tour can reach Albek at firstname.lastname@example.org.