OCTOBER IS stuffed with autumnal sights, smells, tastes and traditions. Pumpkins loom large in kitchens and on front stoops, icons of the ongoing harvest and upcoming Halloween festivities.
As I noted last time, October is also Vegetarian Awareness Month. This year, it's also the Vegan Month of Food, when food bloggers unleash a daily torrent of plant-based how-to's, affirmations and creativity.
Founded in 2007 as a takeoff on NaNoWriMo (National Novel-Writing Month, which participants spend attempting to write a novel), the Vegan Month of Food obviously had to adopt a similar moniker, "VeganMoFo." With 600 participants and a strong social-media presence, the loose-knit organization has become a cross-pollinating cornucopia of vegan knowledge and surprises.
One fun find is how many dedicated and prolific vegan writers are nearby, from "vegetarian-in-the-street" types to established cookbook authors such as "urban vegan" Dynise Balcavage. She noted that VeganMoFo lets her share recipes from her kitchen with people worldwide in "a blogging blitz of plant-based food as a creative, inventive type of cuisine."
Balcavage also termed it a "celebration" - appropriate for the author of Celebrate Vegan (Lyons Press), which finds festive, fun foods for holidays and special occasions throughout the year. In a Halloween vein, she spotlighted the Witches' Fingers cookies from that book. Turning the witches-eat-kids trope inside out, these are hilariously gruesome-looking yet cruelty-free and tasty. (Check this page for sample recipes from everybody mentioned.)
Indeed, most of the posts center on recipes, though the guidelines only specify that the topic be food and that the food be vegan. A festive atmosphere prevails, and many bloggers choose a singular theme each year. Unsurprisingly, the theme of partying is well represented.
"I went with a 'party in my pantry' theme last year, my first," said Dawn Carlock of the blog Vegan Fazool, where her VeganMoFo 2012 theme also unfolds.
As a Community Supported Agriculture member, she explained, "I get a whopping box of local organic produce every week." So this month she's exploring ways "to preserve this bounty by whatever means necessary," such as cooking, canning, drying, fermenting, freezing and more.
Allyson Kramer, author of Great Gluten-Free Vegan Eats (Fair Winds Press), combines her love of vegan food, her need for gluten-free and a sure hand at food photography on the blog Manifest Vegan, one of the most eye-pleasing sites out there.
Manifest Vegan has a strong VeganMoFo bond, not only because this is Kramer's fourth year doing it, but also because her first coincided with the blog's launch. "Over the past years," she said,
"I've enjoyed seeing the growing numbers of participants and the undeniable energy. . . . It's very inspiring to see hundreds of people come together and share stories, photos and recipes, all in the name of delicious vegan food."
As it happens, the VeganMoFo logo was designed by local vegan Amanda Chronister. She knows her way around cartooning and illustration and has a book series, Abby and the Book Bunch, coming out in January.
This is a tiny taste of the overflowing bushel of VeganMoFo content. To learn more, find your favorite category or just bask in the animal-free abundance, see veganmofo.com.
V for Vying: Two contestants in the Vegetarian Awareness Month photo contest are neck-and-neck with four "V-sign" photos apiece. There's still time to get yours in and win! Check rules at: philly.com/vegphotos.
***UPDATE: As of the morning this column comes out, another cometitor has vaulted into the lead in the photo contest! You can keep up with the latest standings, results and tips at this page, - maybe you'll also jump into the running for that Dinner for Two at HipCityVeg!
Vance Lehmkuhl is a cartoonist,
writer, musician and 10-year vegan.
"V for Veg" chronicles the growing
trend of plant-based eating in and
around Philadelphia. Send your veg
tips to VforVeg@phillynews.com
and follow @V4Veg on Twitter.