Welcome Remarks from Jeff Nelson of VegSource.com
Friday evening, September 28, 2001

Welcome to the VegSource e-Vent Weekend!

I’m Jeff Nelson and this is my lovely wife and webwitch, Sabrina.  Has anyone ever wondered why she’s called the WebWitch?

She’s evil...!

A couple weeks ago when that unimaginable thing happened in New York and Washington, we were all reeling, and we wondered whether we’d even be having this event tonight.

We did have a significant number of people decide they didn’t want to fly out, and they cancelled. But a great many more people were determined that they would come, and that’s all of you here tonight. In fact, right here in this audience are people who cancelled after September 11th -- and turned around one week later and said, "What am I thinking?" and re-booked for the conference!

A couple weeks ago we got a call from our sales rep here at the Marriott, and she asked us, “Are you going to cancel?”  And we said, Nope.  And she said, “You’re kidding!  That’s great!  Every other event scheduled for the rest of the month has been cancelled!  We’re so thrilled you’re not canceling!”

So thank you for coming, both from us and from the Marriott...!

We’re thrilled to have you all here tonight.  And the fact that you are all here is an affirmation that we have been lucky enough to bring together some really fascinating, worthwhile speakers this weekend, and I think it’s a testament to the value, fun and importance of the online community, and I’d like to think a testament in particular to the VegSource community.

Some years ago Sabrina and I were having dinner with a producer friend whom I’d known fairly well and had just done a big TV project together with, and Sabrina was asking the waiter if there was chicken stock in the rice.

And my friend turned to me and said, “Are you guys vegetarian?”

And I said, “Yeah, we have been for years.”

And he said, “You’re kidding!  You seem so normal...!!!”

He was wrong about that – we’re not normal…!

But it does underscore that people will sometimes make a lot of assumptions about you based on some of the choices you make, such as the choice of what you eat and don’t eat, and not all those assumptions are charitable…

I want to say that some of my favorite people are in the room here tonight.  Three of my favorite people in the world are sitting right over there, I’m talking about my mother, Mary-Armour Nelson, my father, Jim Nelson, and my brother, Jamie Nelson. 

I am so happy that they flew in from San Francisco to be with us this weekend, and I want to say that no one in this room has parents who are more loving, more supportive or more wonderful than my parents. 

I am also grateful that Howard Lyman is here tonight, even if it meant I didn’t get as much sweet and sour veggie pork at dinner as I otherwise would.

But that’s more than made up for by the fact that he brought his lovely wife, Willow Jean, here with him.  I still don’t understand why she tolerates him.

And I am so honored to have Colin Campbell with us tonight... Colin, who is probably one of the most brilliant men I’ve ever met.  Thanks for coming, Colin, and thanks for bringing your wonderful wife, Karen, and your two sons. 

I don’t know how they put up with Howard, either...

John McDougall is here with us tonight – John, give a wave – along with his own beautiful wife, Mary.  John is, of course, the person responsible for saving my wife’s life. But that's a story we'll save for tomorrow. John also keeps me constantly busy asking me to do favors for him.  But then he knows I owe him. What can I do...?

When we started VegSource in 1996, it was for fun.  It was a mild form of kitchen activism for Sabrina and me. But we started it mainly because we think of ourselves as fun-loving people and we wanted to create a place where people who share an interest in plant-based eating – and who were interested in it for any of the many different, good reasons there are – could come together and share information, learn some new things, support each other, and have fun.

Five years later VegSource has grown to have a life of its own, and it means many different things to different people, who call it Home.

I’d like to say we planned it that way, but the baby we gave birth to had a mind of its own and grew in ways we could not have imagined.

We have a couple of telegrams we received today that I’d like to share with the group.

This first telegram is from Woody Harrelson, and it reads:

Happy 5th Birthday VegSource. 

You get me higher than hemp. 

This second one is from Alicia Silverstone, and it reads:

Dear Jeff and Sabrina: 

Where would the vegetarian movement be without vegsource?

You rock!

That’s very sweet of her, but she’s clueless anyway…

The next one is from Paul Engler, of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association. It reads:

Dear VegSource.com:

You suck.

Thank you, sir.  We very much appreciate the sentiment…

The last one comes from George Bush.  Oh wait – this one is for John McDougall.

Dear Dr. McDougall:   Cheney’s back on steak.  I’m afraid I might have to be President!

Can you please give him the talk again about lowering cholesterol?

Sincerely,

Dubya

People have come from great distances to attend the eVent this weekend…from Seoul Korea…to London England. And tonight we have a prize for who came the furthest, but unfortunately the prize is only good for someone in the US, so we’re going to award it to the person who came the furthest to get here tonight from inside the US.

You may be interested to learn that while Honolulu Hawaii seems like it's probably the furthest away from Los Angeles, Lancaster New Hampshire is actually almost 200 miles further.  And so the winner of the “traveled furthest” contest goes to – Ginny Mead of Ginny’s Vegan Food!

[At this point in the talk, Jeff and Sabrina went on to introduce a number of the VIPs in the audience, as well as many Original VegSourcers -- people who have been on VegSource.com since it opened. These people include:

John Wallace (aka John(HI)
Keith Walker
Jim Glackin
Tom Meinen
Tom Gegax of Minneapolis
Prem Glidden of Chicago
Mark Epstein, Chairman of the National Health Association,
Dr. Jules Oaklander of Miami]

Jeff went on to introduce Friday night’s speaker, Dr. Robert Hatherill, a research toxicologist from UC Santa Barbara and the author of “Eat to Beat Cancer.”