The American Vegan Society (AVS), the longest-running vegan organization in the United States, has just opened a storefront office and cultural center in Philadelphia.
Located on a charming, historic corner of Old City, the American Vegan Center (AVC) is currently an information center offering books, snacks, gifts, and veg history walking tours. The front room, or Welcome Room, is a small shop with printed materials, Philly-specific vegan T-shirts, and other souvenirs. A pamphlet available at the AVC, and also at Independence Visitor Center, features vegan menu options around Old City. Visitors to the AVC can peruse back issues of American Vegan magazine, which is sent to all AVS members. Those signing up for the first time receive a 50% discount on membership.
As live indoor events become safely feasible, the Center will open its Event Room for cooking classes, author events, group discussions, and presentations by chefs, doctors, scholars, authors, and community leaders.
Already launched are the Center's veg history walking tours. Philadelphia was the launch point of both the US vegetarian movement (1817) and the vegan movement (1957). The tours spotlight Philly veg pioneers from 18thcentury abolitionist Benjamin Lay to Basic 4's Alfoncie Austin, along with AVS founder Jay Dinshah. Vance Lehmkuhl, a former vegan columnist for the Daily News and author of Eating Vegan in Philly, leads the entertaining, engaging tours, with sign-ups at americanvegan.org.
The Center's mission is to serve both visitors and the local community with well-sourced information on all aspects of vegan living, to make eating vegan and going vegan easier and more accessible to all.
Philadelphia has both a well-established historic tourism sector and a diverse, nationally renowned vegan food scene. The American Vegan Center aims to bring these aspects together in an exciting, distinctive way. Pointing tourists and residents toward a more vegan world, the Center could become a Philadelphia "must-see" destination in itself.
Marilyn Johnson is a freelance food and travel writer covering the food and drink scene of Philadelphia, South Jersey, and beyond. Food news: firstname.lastname@example.org. Travel tips: email@example.com.