Audrey Fluke Vegetarian Award for an Activist with Words of Encouragement

When second-grader Lisa Simpson decided she wanted to become a vegetarian, she met with enough resistance and difficulty upholding her ethics that she finally took a desperate bite of what she thought was an all-beef hot dog. Fortunately, it was a tofu dog and she found a vegan friend in Quikie Mart owner, Apu. While The Simpsons is just a television show, animated at that, the issue here is real and the point is well taken: sometimes it's not easy to become a vegetarian. If there is resistance from family, friends, peers, wait staff, shop owners, travel agents, kids, bosses, and coworkers, normally genial, friendly vegetarians may become defensive and discouraged.

Audrey Fluke maintained a positive outlook in the face of adversity. In 1982, she was one of the five founding members of The Vegetarian Resource Group, which has grown to an organization of over 17,000 supporters. In her earlier years, Ms. Fluke had been active in the British vegetarian movement. It is no surprise that Audrey was a nurse: she was an extremely caring individual, always offering words of support. Even when Audrey was faced with health problems, she was consistently cheerful and encouraging. Sadly, Audrey passed away in November, 1998.

In honor of Audrey Fluke, The Vegetarian Resource Group offers an award in her name to someone who continues the struggle for increasing awareness of vegetarianism, veganism, and ethical treatment of animals, but maintains a cheerful, positive, and supportive disposition. Individuals like her are extremely hard to come by, and we feel that they should be recognized for their energy and generosity.

This year, there were several dynamic individuals nominated for the award, including youthful Alex Wilson from Colorado, who is a vegetarian in a non-vegetarian family, and who maintains a positive outlook despite the teasing he sometimes gets from his schoolmates. Also nominated was Eleanor Pella, already known around the VRG office as an outgoing dietitian who holds vegetarian potlucks and a vegetarian support group at her hospital.

But one individual who especially stood out was Susan Marek. The nomination arrived with these words about Sue: "Never have I ever seen or talked to her when she hasn't been compassionately concerned over somebody's welfare, disposition, health, or needs. This same concern extends to animals and even plants of all kinds . . ." And about her encouragement, free of guilt and replete with generosity, he continues, " . . .almost from the day we moved in, Sue began sharing her excitement over her 'veggies.' Within a week she had piled my arms high with recipe books . . . 'keep them as long as you want!' she said." Testimony like this reinforces the fact that it is not big money that makes a lasting impression, but the simple generosity, cheerfulness, and friendliness that is so striking and worthy of reward.

Congratulations to Susan Marek, for reminding us what it meant to have Audrey with us.

The Vegetarian Resource Group gives an annual award to a person who promotes vegetarian diets in a cheerful way and gives encouragement to others. The monetary award varies depending on resources, but for 1999 was $100.

To nominate an individual, send your name and address, the nominee's name and address, and a letter detailing why you believe that he or she has earned this honor. The deadline for nominations is November 30 of each year. Send your selection to Audrey Fluke Vegetarian Award, The Vegetarian Resource Group, PO Box 1463, Baltimore, MD 21203, or e-mail to Nomination letters become property of the Vegetarian Resource Group.