When Kaylyn Rhoads was 16 years old, she stumbled upon PETA's "Meet your Meat" video, which detailed factory farming, or high-density animal confinement for human consumption. The young animal-lover, who walked dogs, demonstrated against puppy mills and volunteered at animal shelters, was mortified.

When Kaylyn Rhoads was 16 years old, she stumbled upon PETA's "Meet your Meat" video, which detailed factory farming, or high-density animal confinement for human consumption. The young animal-lover, who walked dogs, demonstrated against puppy mills and volunteered at animal shelters, was mortified.

"I felt horribly betrayed by my parents," Rhoads said. "I ran home from the library and I decided I was vegan. I ate spaghetti and marinara sauce for two weeks [and] I got super sick."

Rhoads eventually returned to the library to access online vegan starter guides, which helped her sustain a healthier vegan diet. Since then, she has maintained her passion for animal activism, working for organizations like Mercy for Animals and Ohio State's Reaching Out for Animal Rights (ROAR). In October 2015, she - along with Stephanie Sopczak and Noah Hossler - began planning the Ohio VegFest (OVF), a statewide event which will introduce attendees to the benefits of veganism on Sept. 17, 2017.

In early 2016, the group officially launched the Columbus Veg Community (CVC) nonprofit to host the OVF and other events for their cause, including a sold-out "ThanksLiving Vegan Dinner" at Whetstone Park of Roses on Saturday, Nov. 19.

"It kind of just snowballed into this wonderful opportunity to make a difference in the community for not just animals, but people who care about animals, people who care about their health [and] people who care about the environmental impact of the animal agriculture," Rhoads said of the organization.

Rhoads also pointed out that CVC takes a non-confrontational approach to educating the public. "A lot of times when people think vegan, they think throwing blood on fur coats," Rhoads said.

Instead of stressing an "all or nothing, abolitionist" path to becoming a vegan, CVC encourages people to transition slowly, providing information on topics like cooking vegan meals, ordering vegan food at restaurants and purchasing cruelty-free clothing and products.

But CVC does not shy away from exposing people to the inner workings of animal farming. At their "Paid-Per-View" events, held at places such as ComFest and the Ohio Union at OSU, attendees are paid $1 to view videos like "What Cody Saw," a "hard-to-watch" examination of "industry-standard animal agriculture practices," according to the CVC team.

"After they watch the video … we debrief them," Rhoads said. "'What did you think of the video? What was surprising? And would you like resources about spending your money somewhere else?'"

Additionally, CVC hosts popular industry speakers and participates in peaceful demonstrations against groups like the "World's Toughest Rodeo," which returns to Columbus in January.

"[Last year] we simply had signs that said, 'Please support animal-free entertainment,'" Rhoads said. "No graphic stuff, no 'shame on you for taking your kids to the rodeo.' That's where we're trying to set ourselves apart from other organizations with our approach.'"

With CVC's education also comes enjoyment. ThanksLiving - a celebration of life without taking a life - will feature dishes like a plant-based roast, green bean casserole and cornbread. A portion of the event's proceeds will benefit Marysville's Sunrise Sanctuary for farm animals.

While ThanksLiving is capped at 100 attendees, the Ohio VegFest will be a larger-scale event, featuring "the best plant-based foods, cosmetics, clothing [and] miscellaneous products" from vegan or vegan-friendly businesses throughout Ohio, Rhoads said. CVC is also planning to book a speaker.

The CVC team hopes the OVF, like all their events, will draw a great number of non-vegans, which should be easy given the organization's response so far.

"The people who are interested in incorporating more and more plant-based options into their lifestyle is definitely growing [in Columbus]," Rhoads said. "That's why we're able to get so many people interested in our events."

With CVC also mentoring students at Worthington high schools, Rhoads feels she has come full circle. "We get to those students at the same age that I was when I went vegan," she said. "One of my favorite quotes to share in the high schools is: 'Don't let your lifestyle make a mockery of your values.'"

According to Rhoads, many people have "vegan values" but lack the resources to live their lives accordingly.

"We want people who come to us … like, 'Hey, I'm an animal lover, but I also love meat,'" she said. "We can [say], 'We got you.'"