On Wednesday, April 25, 2018, SoFlo Vegans hosted their 11th consecutive SoFlo Vegans Unite event at ArtServe in Fort Lauderdale. The theme for the evening was environmental stewardship and featured 20-minute presentations from SusieQ Woods, Karen Eliss-Ritter, and Emilia Lujan. The night also featured potluck dishes from our attendees and vendors and sponsors.

SusieQ Wood kicked off the evening with a presentation on using art as an educational tool. As an artist, publisher and the founder of Global TRASHformation, SusieQ Wood shared her story, including tips and tools, she used to uncover her passion for environmental stewardship. Through her desire to connect with people in a meaningful way, she spoke about the transformation of her art and providing opportunities for groups to work on a collaborative art project using materials collected during a hands-on neighborhood clean up activity. Attendees discovered why it’s so important to stop the plastic flow to the ocean and its relationship to MOOP. She shared her works of art using items collected from our local parking lots and beaches.

Our second presenter was Karen Ellis-Ritter. She is co-founder and Executive Director of the 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization Compassionate Farming Education Initiative. CFEI is a vegan non-profit that educates the public on a grassroots level and seeks to shift consumer demand towards vegan/sustainable products and a global plant-based agriculture model. Karen discussed the staggering environmental impact of the animal agriculture industry – and how we, both as individuals and collectively, have a huge impact on the future of our planet.

Our final speaker for the evening was Emilia Lujan. Compassion has always been an essential part of Emilia’s life. Helping those around her and putting their needs before her own is instinctive. Having been a vegan for three years, Emilia began to use her creative talents and knowledge to reach people and help the vegan movement grow. She is the creator of the extraordinary community that is the My Vegan Daily project in which vegans and non-vegans can come together to take the next step in leaving a positive mark on the world. Her talk addressed how to heal ourselves so we can then begin to heal the planet. Change comes from within and together, we can accomplish anything.

In between each presenter, SoFlo Vegans founder, Sean Russell called raffle numbers for an assortment of prizes. The prizes were donated by several sponsors and included a $25 gift card to Vegan Fine Foods, a gift bag from Sacred Health Solutions, free admission to Veg Speed Dating in Miami, several vegan wristbands and a SoFlo Vegans t-shirt. Sean also led the audience in an exercise that demonstrated his vision for a world that is compassionate, joyous, abundant and connected.

Our food sponsor was The Brunch Gang, led by Heal the Planet winner, Chef Tai. This is the third time Chef Tai has provided food for SoFlo Vegans and from the empty tray at the end of the night, the attendees more than approved.

Next month’s event will focus on the theme of Veganism and Politics and will be held on Wednesday, May 16. All of the photos were taken by David Navarro from Vegan Chasers.

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