Things have changed so much since I first stopped eating meat nearly 30 years ago.
Many restaurants now have vegetarian and vegan offerings, grocery stores have more choices than ever, and there are countless books and websites offering all sorts of information and advice.
There are also more vegetarians and vegans around and with that, a growing number of social and educational groups and opportunities to share and learn.
One great option is the Michiana Healthy Living group that meets at 6 p.m. on the second Tuesday of each month at the Barker Mansion, 631 Washington St., in Michigan City. Organizers ask for a donation of just $1 per meeting to help cover costs.
The group has been around since 2012 and was revamped a bit at the end of last year. The focus is now on educating people on the many benefits of a whole-foods, plant-based diet and a vegan way of living that highlights the different possibilities for clothes, household cleaners and daily products that do not involve the use of animals.
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Guest speakers and discussions focus on the benefits of these changes to the health of people, animals and the planet.
These types of groups are important considering that only an estimated 2 percent of Americans are vegetarian and one-half percent are vegan.
It can feel pretty lonely as a vegetarian or vegan when most everyone and everything around you is presenting a very different view on animals, diet and ethics. This is especially tough for newcomers.
Even after so many years of forgoing meat and other animal products, I find it refreshing and affirming to gather with other like-minded people. I always learn from others and enjoy being able to share my experiences and support.
If you want to check out the Michiana group, RSVP under the meetings tab at michianahealthyliving.com as seating is limited.