“Compassion is the basis of morality.” ― Arthur Schopenhauer
Having compassion for all living things was the theme throughout the sold-out ThanksLiving feast sponsored by VegRehoboth and hosted by Children's Beach House. Now in its fourth year, ThanksLiving is one of VegRehoboth's signature events and continues to attract a diverse crowd committed not only to eating a more healthful diet, but exploring the moral implications of doing so as well.
“We wanted to do something a little different this year. In the spirit of giving, and always with a focus on compassion for all, both Children's Beach House and Free Spirited Foundation were perfect partners for our ThanksLiving dinner," said VegRehoboth President Tara Sheldon. "The involvement of so many within our community surpassed all my wishes, and I could not be more grateful."
Guests were greeted with wine from Bin 66 and Atlantic Liquors, appetizers from Paula Baker of Children's Beach House and Gladys Fernandez of Cilantro.
Before seating for the four-course meal, guests participated in a panel discussion on compassion presented by Free Spirited Foundation. Presenters Athena Allread, Lisa Dougherty, Lauren Mund, Catrina Stiller, Katie Oswald, and Kim Blanch opened the discussion by explaining what compassion means to them. Lisa Dougherty of Dimitra Yoga shared five aspects of compassion, beginning with heartstrings, our deepest feelings of love and compassion; tenderness, or warm compassionate feelings; mercifulness, the feelings that motivate compassion; forgiveness, or compassionate feelings that support a willingness to forgive; and sympathy, sharing the feelings of others' anguish and sorrow. Catrina Stiller offered a new definition of pity that highlights compassion as seeing through the eyes of another without judgment.
In the end, the discussion planted a seed of encouragement that through compassion for ourselves, we can heal and be balanced, and be a seed of compassion for the world around us. Before dinner was served, Ruth Lamothe shared "Spirit of Life" - a call for all beings to be free from suffering and surrounded by the circle of compassion.
Hari Cameron of A(muse.) and Grandpa (MAC) donated two vegan dishes, his legendary vegan mac un-cheese and braised carrots with shiitake mushrooms and local heirloom radishes, and also volunteered his time in the kitchen. Working closely with Denise Vansant, Cave Girl at the Beach, and numerous volunteers, they ensured every course was plated hot and served with ease. Additional restaurants that donated dishes include The Buttery, Crooked Hammock, Bethany Blues, and La Fable.
“Working on the fourth ThanksLiving event reminded me that I live in a very special place,” said Vansant. “I am inspired by the generosity of local restaurants. I am grateful for the people who attended the event and appreciate the many hard working volunteers.”
Many people walked away commenting on how good they felt overall. Allread remarked, "I found the sense of community to be warm and inviting and the interconnectiveness that everyone brought to the experience very rewarding. We can choose to not eat animals and feel good about it."
Sheldon said, "Moving toward eating more plants will only serve us well. It is scientifically proven factory farming is having detrimental effects not only on our health, but also on the environment."
Quoting Albert Einstein, she said, "Nothing will benefit human health and increase chances for survival of life on Earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet."
VegRehoboth, sponsored by Jenn Harpel, Morgan Stanley, and CAMP Rehoboth, is a local nonprofit dedicated to promoting healthy, compassionate and sustainable living. ThanksLiving and VegFest are their two signature events.
The VegRehoboth Holiday Party will be Dec. 15 at A(muse.) VegRehoboth can be found on MeetUp, Facebook, and at www.vegrehoboth.org.