|International Vegetarian Union (IVU)|
A Spotlight on Vegan Companies and Businesses
throughout the United States and a few beyond - updated May 2006
by M. 'Butterflies' Katz
co-author of Incredibly Delicious; Recipes for a New Paradigm
by Gentle World www.gentleworld.org
Vegan Camp for Kids:
Camp Exploration is absolutely vegan! The owner is a totally committed vegan for 20 years! Most of the staff is vegan.
Camp Exploration has been in business for 13 years and offers Winter Travel Day Camp, SNOWvernight Camp (12/26-12/30 annually), Magic Mountain New Year's Eve Overnight Camp (12/31-01/01 annually), Summer Travel Day Camp, Alien Adventure Overnight Camp, Hikers' Heaven Overnight Camp, Mountain Retreat Overnight Camp, and California Cruzin' Overnight Camp.
After years of directing the camps of others, Andy Mars created camps to provide that which he believed could offer so much more to the growth of each individual child. In 1994, he began Camp Exploration summer, winter, & spring programs.
Professionally respected for his vision and success, Andy has regularly been asked to speak to other camp directors at American Camping Association conferences. At recent National Conferences, he has spoken on various topics including "Accommodating Vegan Diets." He helped develop curriculum for EarthSave in its early years and was a founding member of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine.
He is the Coordinator of Los Angeles's annual World Vegan Day Celebration. He is the Coordinator of the Kids' World at Los Angeles's annual WorldFest. He founded and directs a nonprofit that provides hands-on opportunities for children to do community service projects on weekends throughout the year. He is passionate about community service, genuinely cares about each child with whom he works, and enjoys spending time in nature, whenever possible.
As to the camp, Andy created these unique programs that provides strictly vegan food, engaging the campers in the food preparation. In twelve years of these programs, there has only been one complaint about the food, (and not from a camper, but from a parent whose mother flipped out when he came home wanting to be a vegan). Many campers, though, in these programs, over the years, have become vegan, (some with full parental support, some with partial parental support, and some without the support from him - but all receive full support from Andy, in and out of the camp programs). And, certainly campers who are already vegan feel especially comfortable and supported in this environment. Also, the camp van is an Ultra Low Emission Vehicle.
Andy is in extremely conscious and committed man, who deeply thinks through the consequences of his actions, before he decides upon them. As a seven year old, Andy dared to ask, at the family dinner table, "why do we eat dead animals," as at that point he came to realize that reality that greatly disturbed him. Unfortunately, his father reacted harshly by swinging and hitting young Andy, and screaming, "You better appreciate what I work hard to put on this table . Regretfully, this led Andy to suppress his questioning, thinking, feeling at that time.
It was not until he graduated college, and was entering the first residence that was truly to be his own, with his own kitchen for the first time in his life, not dependent on college cafeteria, family, etc., that Andy mumbled to himself upon seeing his first kitchen, that "this kitchen was never going to see any meat." Not knowing any vegetarians, let alone any vegans, Andy became an instant vegetarian. Along with not eating animals, Andy also instantly made the connection to not eat eggs, to not wear animals, etc. He was, however, consuming quite a bit of dairy at that time, not yet aware of the horrors of the dairy industry, and sadly falling prey to the dairy industry's advertising campaigns.
He was also not yet fully aware of the problems of animal testing. He did, though, know that it existed some. He thus started doing research one where to purchase products that were not tested on animals. He received a listing from PETA of companies that sell products not tested on animals. There were a handful of such specialty mail-order catalog companies. He sent a letter to each of them, asking for their catalogs. One of the catalogs he received was from a company called "Vegan Street," that was located in Baltimore, and which unfortunately is no longer in business. They specialized in selling non-leather belts and wallets, and cosmetics not tested on animals. When Andy received that catalog in the mail, he opened it up and read on the inside front cover, "What is a vegan " He was utterly thrilled, thinking to himself, "wow - there's a word for me - there must actually be other people who believe this - I'm not alone!"
He then went to the library to research the word "vegan" further. He came across a listing for the American Vegan Society. He was living in Connecticut at the time, and they were located in New Jersey. He called them up an spoke with Freya Dinshah, who informed him that they were going to be having a cooking class that coming weekend. He gladly registered for the course and spent the next weekend at the American Vegan Society's headquarters in Malaga, New Jersey. He enjoyed himself immensely there and spent most of the weekend sitting and chatting with Jay Dinshah, the Founder and President of the American Vegan Society. They hit it off famously. Jay asked Andy to run to fill the vacancy on the Board of Trustees of the American Vegan Society in the upcoming election. Andy has served on the Board ever since.
It was a month after Andy entered his first apartment and made the commitment to becoming vegetarian that Andy became totally vegan. Andy now most days drives the totally electric car that he built himself - a conversion from a 1960 Sunbeam Alpine - and other days he drives the Ultra Low Emission Vehicle, CNG Powered Eco Van for his youth programs)
Camp Exploration, P.O. Box
24922, Los Angeles, CA. 90024