Despite the cloudy and chilly day, a large crowd descended upon the George Washington University Campus for the first ever DC VegFest. The crowd included vegans, vegetarians and meat-eaters interested in learning more about a non-meat lifestyle and compassionate living.
Vendors included animal activists, vegetarian travel agents, cosmetic companies, sports groups, book sellers, resource groups, and more.
The food options were quite extensive. Food vendors included Amsterdam Falafelshop, Java Green, Mojo Juice/Senbab Cafe, Nirvana, Sunflower Cafe and Toscana Grill.
Most popular were the vegan bakery treats on hand by Emily’s Deserts, Sticky Fingers Bakery and Vegan Treats. The lines were very long to take advantage of these great foods.
I was so overwhelmed by the food choices that it took me several trips up and down the food aisle to finally decide. I finally chose to go with the food options at Senbeb Cafe. Their kiosk included a black bean burger with hummus served on a flat wheat bread with a side of mixed greens. You could also get a fresh coconut opened up by a brave man with a machete. I opted to just get the food but enjoyed the entertainment value of the coconut cutting. Senbeb Cafe is located at 6334 3rd Street, NW in Washington, DC and is connected to a natural foods store. After this sampling, I am looking forward to going there for a full review.
However, I must note that the food area was a victim of it’s own success. Perhaps for next year, the organizers should think about how the long lines tended to clog the area. It was hard to figure out what lines went to what food vendor. Also, the organizers should encourage the food vendors to post on a large sign what options were available. Some had them, but there were many people having to ask what they could order and how much it was. This also clogged up the area because people weren’t sure what was available.
DC VegFest had a packed schedule of events featuring a vegetarian politician (Senator Jamie Raskin), a nutritionist (Dr. Michael Greger), an athlete (Kenneth Williams), and a local vegetarian news personality (Wendy Rieger).
The festival also featured two cooking demonstrations. Mimi Clark from Veggie Gourmet did a really informative session on quinoa. She demonstrated two recipes – Gluten Free Quinoa Fiesta Salad and Quinoa Pasta Sesame Salad. Both are quite easy to make. I found that the Quinoa Pasta Sesame Salad was quite hearty and peanuty – but she didn’t use peanuts. I was really impressed.
Her samples were received with gusto prompting one attendee behind me to declare, “This is really good. I could totally make this.” Her husband responded, “Yeah, I’d eat this!” Someone else commented that “I only use my oven for making bread, brownies…oh, and reheating pizza” and she, too, was inspired to cook more.
(I have attended a few of Mimi’s cooking classes and highly recommend them. She not only shows how to make something but goes further by describing the nutritional value of the dish and the history of the ingredients. She is passionate about teaching folks about vegan cooking and really knows her stuff. Best of all, she always has free samples and coupons so you can try some of the products on your own.)
Unfortunately, I could not stay for the second cooking demonstration. Tracye McQuirter, author of the upcoming book “By Any Greens Necessary” cooked All Hail the Kale Salad and Fresh Peach Cobbler (no oven required). The recipes will definitely be tried in my kitchen.
The “main draw” of the day was Rory Freedman, author of Skinny Bitch. She was a very animated, engaging and honest speaker. Her message of “Don’t Assume the Worst in People” asked that vegan and vegetarian folks have some patience with meat-eaters as they will, perhaps, “find their way.” She was funny and engaging in her storytelling. She spoke for maybe 10 minutes and when she finished she stepped off the stage and the audience sat in their seats wondering, “Is that all?” I think people were hoping for more – perhaps even reading an excerpt from her book. She did hang around for a book signing, though.
I truly hope that the DC VegFest will be around in 2010. I spoke to some of the volunteers and they are looking to find an even bigger location for next year. In the meantime, those that had the chance to make it to the 2009 festival certainly got their fill and were perhaps quite tired from all the excitement of the day.
View more pictures from the 2009 DC VegFest below.