One of Bellingham’s most anticipated Valentine’s Day events is coming up, and locals from all dietary lifestyles are invited.
Bellingham Veg Fest’s annual Valentine Vegan Bake Sale will take place Saturday, Feb. 11, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at V GO’s Bellingham. There will be a variety of vegan-friendly treats for visitors to purchase in support of Ahimsa Microsanctuary.
Ahimsa Microsanctuary is a small-scale organization providing care and a safe home for rescued animals.
“[Ahimsa] means to do no harm to any living creature … [and to have] respect for all living things and avoidance of violence toward others,” said founder Tamara Pavesi, also known as the “Microsanctuary Mama,” and a co-founder of Bellingham Veg Fest.
Pavesi said the support from the event will further advance her mission as she works solo in caring for these animals. She hopes the donations will help cover the expensive vet bills she’s received after having several animals require extensive medical attention.
“The bake sale is for my really horrible December,” Pavesi said, explaining that she had brought four of her birds into the vet’s office at once as they dealt with different health emergencies. Only Rainbow, a budgie, survived out of the four.
Treatment for Peanut, a chihuahua rescue who passed away in emergency care, only added to these high costs and emotional challenges. She estimates that she’s been billed a total of $3,000 in the past two months alone.
Selena Holmes, director of Bellingham Veg Fest, said the organization was intentional in choosing to partner with local animal sanctuaries and rescues to help them raise funds.
“Animal rescue is extremely expensive, and as an organization dedicated to raising awareness about animals in need … vegan bake sales are a fun and effective way to help us do that,” Holmes said.
Holmes said these fundraising events are well-received by the vegan community and believes there is something special about people donating and buying baked treats while knowing that they are directly supporting rescued animals.
Jeannie Gilbert, owner of KPNW-DB radio and a Bellingham Veg Fest enthusiast, said she initially began working with Holmes and Pavesi after attending the very first event Bellingham Veg Fest hosted and helping them with the sound system. She even pitched the idea to have them host a radio show, which lasted three years.
The pair’s work inspired Gilbert to make the decision to embrace the vegan lifestyle. She’s been actively donating treats for their bake sales ever since her first Veg Fest.
“To donate to something that’s going to educate people about animal situations, about food … about lifestyle – To me, that’s important,” Gilbert said.
She believes events like the bake sale offer opportunities for fellowship that allow vegans to socialize while giving back to the community.
Holmes emphasized that everyone is welcome, no matter their diet.
“We strive to create a safe place for all who are interested in a vegan lifestyle by showing them a variety of ways to incorporate [it] into their current lifestyles,” Holmes said.
She encourages those who have questions and want to learn more or are interested in donating vegan baked treats to email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Pavesi added that for those unable to attend the event, there are plenty of ways people can contribute and help microsanctuaries.
“Bellingham Veg Fest is an awesome resource. … They have work parties and most of the sanctuaries have work parties,” Pavesi said. “I really don't think that sanctuaries can put into words how much volunteers and donors [need them]. Without them, I don't think that we could do it. I really don't.”
Janet Lopez (she/her) is a city life reporter for The Front. She is majoring in marketing with a concentration in public relations. Her work is focused on lifestyle, upcoming events and sharing fun little stories about Bellingham that you might not have known otherwise.
You can reach her at email@example.com.