In each issue Vegetarians in Paradise presents the 24 Carrot Award to an outstanding person or organization that endeavors to practice or promote education, natural health, wholesome nutrition, and ecology techniques for the mutual benefit of humans, animals, and the earth.
With great pride Vegetarians in Paradise presents the 24 Carrot Award to Sabrina and Jeff Nelson who have worked together to create a vegetarian paradise on the world wide web. In little more than two years they have turned VegSource into the premiere vegetarian site on the net. They have made it possible for millions of people around the world to access information on vegetarian and vegan lifestyles.
The VegSource home page, one of the most colorful sites on the web, presents the viewer with an almost mind-boggling array of information choices. Listed here are the numerous sites they sponsor, discussion boards, articles by experts, book reviews, recipes, nutrition and health information, and much more. They also host Vegetarian Central which is a directory and search engine for vegetarian information.
"The mission of VegSource is to offer the most up-to-date health and diet information and to encourage the many good reasons for a plant-based diet, " they write on their site. "We do this by sponsoring leading authorities and organizations and promoting their critical message." The banner on the front page proclaims, " Friendly support 25 hours a day, 8 days a week for your healthy vegetarian lifestyle."
Jeff estimates the traffic on the VegSource main page at about 1, 000, 000 visitors each month. "I want VegSource to be a hub for vegetarians," he says. "I want the site to be easy to read and content rich."
The site has a link to an award page which graphically shows some of the honors they have received. "We have so many awards we don't have time to put them up anymore," he remarks. When VegSource was selected as the site of the day by Microsoft, 15, 000 people visited within those 24 hours.
VegSource acts as a host for a number of web sites. As host they provide bandwidth on their server at no cost to the individuals or groups. Some of the groups have their own webmasters while others rely on VegSource for this service. In the beginning Greg Lemire volunteered his expertise in designing pages for VegSource. He is now paid for his work and has been recommended to design pages for other sites hosted by VegSource.
Writing and computers have been an important part of the lives of both Jeff and Sabrina. Jeff has written for Cagney and Lacy on television and has created film scripts as well as books. His credits include being a producer of television commercials and a line producer for the film On Wings of Eagles . As an author Jeff collaborated on Handwriting Analysis: Putting It to Work for You. His latest writing project was inspired by his involvement in a lawsuit. The book, sharing what he learned, will appear later this year.
Sabrina was a writer and computer consultant when she met Jeff. Their computer romance began when they met on an computer bulletin board nine years ago. After an exchange of email, they discovered they had much in common. Today they are a two-computer family.
Sabrina and Jeff began interacting on the net early in 1996. By October of that year they decided to mount their own site. They hired someone to handle the technical matters such as message boards while they designed the pages themselves. The site featured six message boards with Sabrina and Jeff writing most of the articles until they could persuade others to contribute.
The couple had a wish list of people and organizations they wanted to host on their site. They began by approaching Howard Lyman, who was involved in the Oprah lawsuit with Texas cattle ranchers. Soon after, they were approached by Earthsave and other organizations. They now host almost sixty sites including three in the United Kingdom.
By 1998 the costs of maintaining VegSource and hosting all the other sites had become quite expensive. They were covering the expenses out of their own pockets. Because of the financial drain, they decided to accept advertising. In June 1998 the ads appeared. Sabrina screens the ads so that none are inappropriate for the site. At this point the project is self sustaining.
VegSource is one of their many collaborative efforts during their six years of marriage. "After Jeff and I hooked up, we started working together on projects, " says Sabrina. We're partners in every sense of the word." Photographs of three of their major projects, Miranda and Katerina, their five-year-old twins; and Willie, their three year old appear on their web site. Anyone fearing that a vegan diet could result in a loss of energy should observe Willie, a little dynamo who could steamroll the contents of the Nelson's Chatsworth, California, home in minutes.
The Nelsons are a vegan family. Jeff became vegetarian for health reasons. Sabrina adopted vegetarianism because she did not like the mistreatment of animals. When Sabrina developed an autoimmune disease, she read The McDougall Program: Twelve Days to Dynamic Health in which the author advocates a vegan regimen which includes the elimination of dairy products. After three months on a vegan diet, she recovered from her illness.
"We have seen the benefits for us and our family," says Jeff. "I dropped twenty pounds. Sabrina is better. The kids have always been vegan."
The family also includes Lucy, a vegetarian Irish setter, and two carnivorous cats: Mimi, a Balinese; and Kiki, a street cat they rescued.
In addition to VegSource and their writing assignments, the couple is collaborating on a web site called Animal News which can be accessed at http://www. animalnews.com. They hope to make it as successful as Vegsource at http://www. vegsource.com.