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Vegetarians, vegans and meat enthusiasts alike gathered on Saturday to savor innovative cuisine and explore intriguing lifestyle perspectives inspired by their environmentally friendly and health conscience neighbors at the Sacramento VegFest.
The crowd was a mix of young adults, the elderly and families with children. Guests strolled between two convenient event locations, the Artisan Building and the Greens Hotel on Del Paso Boulevard, to sample local fair and attend guest speaker presentations.
In the Artisan Building, the Live Food Academy founders launched their newest raw foods creation, Julio and Margaret’s Crunchy Salsa, a refreshing jicama and avocado accompaniment to any chip.
Three years ago, Margaret Gomes, co-founder of Live Food Academy began incorporating vegan diet practices into her daily routine in the midst of a bout with a serious illness. Within a few weeks, she noticed a vast improvement in her health and decided to permanently commit to veganism.
“After that experience, I decided to become a raw foods chef in order to help others,” Gomes said. “We offer everything from classes and workshops to catering and even a lifestyle retreat.”
Also following the vegan path are Jen and Shawn Fosnight, founders of Never Felt Better Vegan Shop, a local company dedicated to selling 100 percent vegan products, from food to clothing.
“Veganism has become trendy in terms of diet,” Jen Fosnight said. “But we have a long way to transition. It’s a lifestyle choice, from healthy living to preventing animal cruelty.”
If animal awareness was taken to the next level, it’s through the invention of David Middlesworth, president of V-Dog. The Sacramento company created a plant-based vegetarian option for canines and has offered its products throughout the United States since 2005.
“People are becoming more aware of what is actually in standard pet food,” Middlesworth said. “They want to feed their pets natural and healthy options just like they themselves are eating.”
The increasing variety of food products and specialty services alone hint at the growing trend in Sacramento’s health-conscious residents.
“We have over 1,000 members meeting between four vegan meet-up sites throughout Sacramento,” said Linda Middlesworth of the Sacramento Vegan Society. “Restaurants need to get on board. We are on the move!”
Several local restaurants are already paving the way.
The comforting aroma of fried rice and chow mein enticed guests to pause at the Loving Hut booth, which offered a sampling of its Vietnamese and Chinese cuisine.
Some might wonder about the logic of opening a restaurant specifically catered to vegans and vegetarians.
“We wanted to be able to allow people to enjoy vegan and vegetarian cuisine-style food in our community,” said Trina Nguyen, a manager at Loving Hut in Elk Grove. “It’s also about being health conscious and helping the environment.”
Those with a sweet tooth were not excluded in the quest for vegan and vegetarian alternative foods.
Sugar Plum Vegan Cafe offered up mouthwatering chocolate-dipped chocolate chip cookies with a peanut butter buttercream filling and flavorful lemon lavender cupcakes. Outside the Greens Hotel, Little Jimmy’s Italian Ices helped guests beat the heat with their all-natural, dairy-free treats.
Guest friendly information booths abounded throughout the festival.
Wonder Wormin’ Vermicomposting Systems educated visitors on the use of red worms to compost organic waste. Specifically designed for those living in an urban setting, this practice helps to efficiently reduce kitchen waste and produces the richest fertilizer on earth.
Nearby, sacyoga.com owner Jill Bernard provided guests with a variety of community resources geared toward whole health of the mind, body and spirit.
“More and more people are becoming educated on the natural healing benefits of yoga,” Bernard said. “There are so many different styles of yoga for people to choose from. There is something for everyone.”
Indeed there was something for everyone, whether it was continuing a chosen lifestyle path or simply learning something new. This summer’s VegFest proved to be quite a delicious treat for all who attended.