Our History

Meet our director, Roberta Schiff


The Mid-Hudson Vegetarian Society was founded in 1996 by Rae Schlecht of Kingston NY. Two different experiences led her to first consider and advocate a vegan way of life. She was a long-distance bike rider and read that carbohydrate loading was a good way to garner energy for a long ride. Logic led her to consider that this is a good way to eat all the time; she began researching. Then one night looking at her much-loved dog, Zack, lying at her feet, she realized that his hind leg looked a lot like a leg of lamb and thought, I certainly would never eat him!

Rae made up some flyers, posted them around and forty people came to the first meeting. Soon regular meetings and restaurant outings were being held and then outreach was added as members began tabling at community events and health fairs.

Rae and others began attending the North American Vegetarian Society’s annual Summerfest conference in Johnstown PA where the leading lights of the vegan world speak and do presentations. To share the knowledge she was acquiring, she began inviting some of them to come speak at our events. Rae upgraded from vegetarian to vegan after hearing George Eiseman speak at Summerfest and learning that dairy is not a suitable food for humans. There is much cruelty and abuse when humans take the milk meant to nourish a newborn calf for their own consumption. 

In 2002, Roberta Schiff of Rhinebeck NY became President of Mid-Hudson Vegetarian Society and continued many of the programs and events and added others. In 2011, she started the Hudson Valley Vegans meet-up group and now runs both organizations together. We continue offering both Social Events and Social Action.

At our events all food served is vegan and we encourage people to consider if they want to wear leather, wool and silk, which involve cruelty to animals. We point out the environmental damage caused by animal agriculture, the great contribution to global warming and world hunger. Exploring and presenting the many health benefits of eating a plant based diet is central to our focus and outreach.