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Charlotte VegFest continues to grow plant-based lifestyle in the city

 By Shirley Griffith

October 9, 2018

Veganism at its simplest is a form of compassion. Demonstrating conscientious love for the helpless and voiceless, especially in these hate-filled days, is a political protest, a movement towards societal equality for all, and a conscious appreciation for this beautiful rock we’re all spinning around on. To many, choosing what’s on your plate and how it got there is a luxury when at least 173,000 Charlotteans are classified as food insecure.

Charlotte Vegfest, a 501(c)(3), aims to promote the healthy benefits of a vegan diet and lifestyle for all, not just some. With diversity of access and availability in mind, Vegfest coordinators curated a selection of over 150 vegan chefs, speakers and vendors from differing backgrounds to break down the specific barriers and often disenfranchising ties to veganism to show that a plant-based lifestyle isn’t just about where to find avocado toast, it’s about having individual agency over one of life’s most basic needs: food. “Charlotte’s vegan food community has been growing and variegating rapidly this year and part of our job is to make sure that diversity is being represented at this festival,” Vegfest coordinator, owner and executive chef of Nourish, Julia Simon said.

Nourish

Charlotte Vegfest started out in a small parking lot with only a handful of vendors in 2011. Now, seven years later, each Vegfest grows exponentially, culminating in last year’s attendance of over 6,000 fest-goers at Vegfest’s newest location, The Park Expo & Conference Center. This year, which is predicted to be even larger than the last, features nationally recognized speakers highlighting the health and environmental benefits of a plant-based diet and lifestyle, as well as a chef demo station, a vegan-friendly Trick-or-Treat, an open panel of local experts discussing plant-based parenting, and an all-ages official after party at The Spoke Easy that night. The event, held Saturday, October 13 from 11 a.m. – 4 p.m., is free and family-friendly, encouraging thousands to come together to celebrate healthy, sustainable, and compassionate living for everyone.

The close to 100 vendors at this year’s Vegfest bring the most delicious vegan food and drinks from our area right to your fingertips, including Lenny Boy Brewing, Move That Dough Baking Co, Taylor Street Sweets, Barvecue, and Cinnaholic. Vegfest will also host an all-vegan food court featuring local restaurants and food trucks like Banh Mi Brothers, Nourish, Lamb’s Bread Vegan, Fern, Living Kitchen, and more of your local and regional favorites.

Plant-based tuna from Good Catch Foods

Charlotte Vegfest 2018 will represent progressive thinkers and doers from NC and beyond, helping to create a more just and peaceful world starting with the Queen City. This year’s inspirational and varied speakers include world renowned biochemist and author of The China Study, T. Colin Campbell, Ronnie Tsunami of Plant Pure Nation, and Morathi Howie, host of Vegan Love Culture. “With increasing racial tensions both nationally and internationally, we wanted to bring people together to understand how we all benefit from a vegan lifestyle no matter where we are from…that we are on this journey together,” said President and CEO of Change Leader Solutions, Ronnie Tsunami.”This is why we are featuring a diverse group of speakers in terms of ethnicity and gender discussing a wide range of topics.”

Morathi Howie, CEO of Vegan Love Culture LLC, added, “Veganism is a universal movement that brings humanity together – as a lifestyle, it has the ability to break down barriers that have existed for a very long time. Being an African American and witnessing the poor health conditions in my community both physically and mentally, I know that this lifestyle can bring wellness to any that take the time to learn about this way of life.”

Charlotte VegFest 2016

The official after party, which is free and open to all ages, will be held at The Spoke Easy (1530 Elizabeth Ave) from 7 p.m. – 10 p.m. Keeping with the mindset of inclusivity and diversity, local beloved hotdog vendor Juan Carlos will flex his love for the plant-based palate with a vegan food cart and Jai Foods will bring their mouthwatering Southeast Asian flare to satiate any late-night cravings. Charlotte-based Latinx punk band T!O!F!U! kicks the party off at 7 p.m., followed by recent Creative Loafing cover artist Sidenote’s special mellow hip hop. Atlanta’s Grey the Vegan Rapper’s vibrant flows round out the evening, with DJ Sativa spinning enlightened jams throughout the night. The Spoke Easy will have all vegan beers available and their open-air patio encourages community and good vibes.

Charlotte VegFest 2018 is a free and family-friendly event taking place on Saturday, October 13 from 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. at The Park Expo and Conference Center. The official after party will take place from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. at The Spoke Easy.

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