posted April 25, 2023
Several years ago, I saw an ad for Main Street Vegan Academy (MSVA) in VegNews magazine. It looked amazing and I wanted to study there. Even though the in-person location was only 15 miles from my home, the schedule and timing did not work out.
Imagine my surprise when during the pandemic, I saw that there was a Zoom class! I signed up immediately for the Winter/Spring 2021 MSVA.
One must already be Vegan to take the course and I had been for 14 years. Another prerequisite for the course was to submit something in writing about my Vegan journey. Victoria Moran, the creator of MSVA, responded with a friendly and receptive email. I could not believe I was corresponding with this Vegan icon. I’ve come to learn that this down-to-earth woman I met online is genuinely this way all the time.
Victoria was 100% present during our Zoom classes. The presenters were exceptional; Victoria was one of them, too.
I’d hoped to meet Victoria in person one day since we live so close—just a bus ride away. And I got my chance when several months ago, in one of our emails, Victoria mentioned that we must have lunch. Due to our busy schedules and family commitments, it took a while, but we met in January 2023. We lucked out because it can be in the single digits in New York City, but it was a balmy 50-degree day.
Victoria chose Le Botaniste, a Vegan restaurant on the Upper West Side. The menu is simple, offering six bowls, eight appetizers, some soup choices, and a few dessert options. The staff comes out from behind the counter to explain the food to their customers. The restaurant’s décor is simple and earthy.
We hugged hello, and from that point forward I felt as if we had known each other longer than the two years since we met via Zoom for the MSVA. I knew she was a sweet and gentle soul—meeting in person confirmed it.
I ordered the Spicy Chile Sin Carne (Spicy Chile Without Meat) made with brown rice, three beans, quinoa, chili sin carne, ersatz sour cream, turmeric and onions. It was delicious.
I have been a Vegan since 2007. My goal has been to not harm or eat any animals. I also support Vegan groups, animal rescue teams and sanctuaries.
Dining with Victoria, she sought my opinion on many things. I was honored to be considered a viable source of information.
After our lunch, Victoria asked if I wanted to get tea at a dog café nearby. I was enjoying her company immensely and I wanted to spend more time together. Normally unknown dogs frighten me since I was attacked by a friend’s dog at seven years of age, and I have been petrified of dogs ever since — almost 50 years. However, I knew that if Victoria suggested this café — she knew many of the other dogs and their humans) — it would be safe.
I forgot that I was afraid. I petted Abigail, pictured left, without hesitating.
When somebody you trust makes you feel this comfortable, anything is possible.
Since graduating from Victoria’s MSVA, I’ve had the confidence to achieve many things. Including:
- Starting my own blog, Fit and Fifties Vegan
- Writing for the Main Street Vegan blog
- Appearing on the Chef AJ Live show as a guest.
One email to Victoria Moran two years ago opened up the Vegan world to me in ways I could not have possibly imagined.
If you are unsure about signing up for the Main Street Vegan Academy, I would not hesitate. (Read my previous post 7 Perks from Attending Main Street Vegan Academy for even more information.) I made Vegan friends for life and am now aware of and active in other Vegan groups. I met many well-known Vegan icons, too. Most of all, being part of the MSVA community means we are not alone. Being amongst fellow Vegans is an extraordinary bonus.
Graduating from Main Street Vegan Academy is one of my proudest accomplishments as a Vegan.
Cherie Hans holds certifications from Dr. McDougall’s Starch Solution and Dr. Campbell’s Plant-Based Nutrition programs. She holds a Master of Science in Bilingual Education from St. John’s University, NY, and a Bachelor of Arts from the City University of NY: Queens College in English and Spanish, and currently teaches adults in English as a Second Language. After graduating from Main Street Vegan Academy, Cherie started the blog Fit and Fifties Vegan. She is from Queens, New York, but now resides in New Jersey with her husband and many rescued cats.