When Chris Tannlund moved his family from St. Louis to Lamar in 1999
they didn't know anyone, and while they met people in the intervening
five years, they met no one who shared their vegetarian lifestyle.
"This (area) is a cultural environment that doesn't support that
lifestyle," Tannlund said.
Recently, he and his wife decided to start the Tri-State Vegetarians
because they thought it was important to take a stand for their
beliefs and start a community of vegetarians that would be
recognizable in the area.
"It needs to be considered more of a normal thing than a weird thing,"
Tannlund said. "Just looking in from the outside, people could say
there are no vegetarians here, which is our own fault."
Using the Web site www.meetup.com, Tannlund found some Joplin-area
vegetarians who had never met outside of the Internet and he set about
organizing the group. He contacted the people online, took out ads in
newspapers, and put up fliers around Joplin.
Tannlund and his wife have been vegetarians for almost 20 years. He
became one "as a kind of 20-something spiritual quest" while his wife
became a vegetarian out of an deep-seated belief in animal rights and
a desire to cause as little suffering as possible.
He said other vegetarians choose the lifestyle because of health
concerns as well as spiritual beliefs and animal-right issues.
Tannlund said almost every reason is different, but what they all have
in common is a dedication to eating three meals a day for the rest of
their lives without meat.
"There is no litmus test as far as the group," Tannlund said. "Why a
person becomes a vegetarian is a personal decision, but we're there to
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