The Charlottesville Vegetarian Festival is billed as one of the largest vegetarian festivals on the east coast. This year it took place on September 27, 2008 from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Vendors included everything from book distributors and cooking schools to furniture and crafts. There were petitions to sign on various topics – environmental, circus protests, animal welfare. Other booths were set-up to educate people on the benefits of vegetarianism and veganism and provided “how to” information.
It was a great opportunity to learn more about various causes. A few vegetarian and vegan products were available to sample including tofu and vegan cheese. Live performers also set the tone for the day.
The on and off rain didn’t dampen the spirits. It did, however, make it smell like wet dog over in the pet adoption area. But, I think folks were able to overlook that.
The highlight, of course, was the food area. However, I think I was expecting more. Maybe the rain chased off some of the food vendors? There probably eight different stands serving hot and cold foods. Vegan deserts, Indian food and various African cuisines were just some of the things you could choose from.
I sampled from a booth simply labeled “Southern Vegetarian Food.” I ordered both the fried tofu and the black eye pea balls. To wash it down, a cup of beet and ginger punch. I was at first skeptical about the punch. I’m first not a fan of ginger and beets, to me, usually have more of an earthy taste. In this case, it wasn’t so. It tasted quite sweet with only a hint of the beet and ginger flavors.
I also got a plate from an Ethiopian restaurant, Blue Nile Ethiopian Cuisine, based out of Harrisonburg, VA. The combination plate included:
- Gomen: Fresh collard greens stewed with onions, garlic, ginger, and tomatoes.
- Tofu Keye Wat: Tofu stewed with tomatoes, onions, garlic, ginger, and Berebere.
- Misir Alicha: Red split lentils stewed with onions, garlic, green peppers, ginger and tumeric.
- Injera: Thin, pancake like, sour bread made from barley and Teff flour.
So, even though the rain made it a bit soggy, everyone remained in good spirits and seemed to be enjoying the day. I think it was a great opportunity for not only expert and novice vegans and vegetarians but also carnivores and more to learn more about a healthy and humane lifestyle.
Charlottesville Vegetarian Festival
Lee Park located at 201 E. Market Street