By Paige Morris
I am on a mission to obtain an education. And I am on a mission to enjoy a healthy lifestyle. On this journey, I discovered a peculiar scholarship for vegetarianism, established by the Vegetarian Resource Group. The scholarship requires that I promote vegetarianism in the community and write an essay documenting my success, challenges and experience.
My name is Paige Morris; I’m 17 and a vegetarian. I am also an online student at Grand Canyon University. I plan to obtain a bachelor of science in nursing, specializing in pediatric oncology.
Sedona, Ariz., is a small community that caters to tourists, so one of my first stops was the Sedona Chamber of Commerce, where I had an appointment with Jennifer Wesselhoff, the president of the chamber. She listened to my desire of sponsoring vegetarianism in our community. She helped me map out promotional options in detail. A friend, Rick Wesselhoff, donated the domain name and helped me create www.sedonavegetarians.com.
The website became complete with photos, recipes, restaurants, articles and a link to my favorite book, “The China Study,” which inspired my conversion to vegetarianism. The blog took on a life of its own, expanding into Facebook and Twitter variations. I now had a press release, biography and recipes donated by friends, family and other vegetarians. I was able to create fliers and distribute them around our town; they were displayed at the library, Starbucks, restaurants and hotels. Soon there was a buzz around town — or maybe just a whisper — but I had more visitors checking out my website, and they began to send e-mails with comments. I made sure never to post a recipe I had not cooked and consumed, ensuring quality.
The local newspaper, the Red Rock News, asked to set up an interview to learn more about what I was doing. A photographer came to my house to watch me prepare one of my favorite meals, black bean burgers. Before I knew it, I was on the front page, burgers and all. I met with the orchestrator of the Sedona Farmers Market, where I arranged to set up a booth promoting vegetarianism. I equipped myself with articles about the diets of carnivores versus herbivores and the vegetarian food pyramid. I included a copy of “The China Study,” a flier for the website and a basket of free apples to give to anyone who stopped by my booth.
All these different avenues contributed to the promotion of vegetarianism in my community. It has been an adventure. I live this mission.
I am hoping to receive the scholarship. But even if I do not, this undertaking has been a rewarding investment of time. It might not be a revolution in the true sense of the word. It is just one girl in her own community, trying to reach one person at a time. To think. To change. To live.
Learn More about Paige’s efforts at www.sedonavegetarians.com or follow her on Twitter at @SedonaVeggies.