Graphic Credit: New York City Vegetarian Food Festival
Last Sunday (April 4, 2011), the first ever New York City Vegetarian Food Festival was held to celebrate cruelty- free food. The event was organized by Sarah Gross, founder of Rescue Chocolate, and Nira Paliwoda. Both entrepreneurs and foodies, they realized that no single event existed to bring together the range of conscientious eaters in the New York City area. The festival was a gigantic hit with thousands of people showing up and waiting in line for more than two hours to get into the Altman Building where it was held in Manhattan. The festival illustrated the wide variety of plant-based foods and products available in the marketplace. Vendors provided free samples in the event while several vegan restaurants provided food for sale outside of the event. The festival literally took over several blocks - the line stretched from the middle of 18th Street to 7th Avenue to 19th Street and around the corner back to 6th Avenue. Those that waited for entry were greeted with world-class speakers, live music, and fun food contests throughout the day in addition to the vast array of vegan food samples.
The event was sponsored by such organizations as PETA, Rescue Chocolate, Balance, Gilda Mulero, HappyCow and Yelp - to name a few. I had a chance to talk with Chef Cindi Avila, Victoria Moran and Dr. Rob Streisfeld (aka Doc Rob), three of the speakers at the festival.
Video of Chef Cindi Avila, Video Credit: Neil Chambers
Avila is known for her vegetarian cooking show Green Goddess as well as from appearances on the Food Network, TLC and CBS. Her mission is to educate people that meat isn't necessary to make flavorful, well balanced meals.
Video of Victoria Moran, Video Credit: Neil Chambers
Moran has appeared on Oprah (twice), Good Morning America, the Today Show and NPR's All Things Considered. She is the author of several books about how to live a healthy, vegan life with the most recent publication being The Love-Powered Diet: Eating for Freedom, Health, & Joy. A force of positive energy, Moran also writes for Yoga Journal, Mothering, Natural Health, Woman's Day, Body & Soul, and Vegetarian Times. She is the host of Veg and the City show on HealthyLife.net Radio, and writes the Veg and the City blog on HuffingtonPost.com.
Video of Doc Rob, Video Credit: Neil Chambers
Streisfeld, better known as Doc Rob, is a Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine as well as a trained Gourmet Natural Foods Chef, who focuses on bringing a much-needed voice to the Modern Health conversation. He is an author, consultant and spokesperson for some of the leading manufacturers in the Natural Products Industry. You can find him traveling across America speaking and utilizing his creative and down to earth style to effectively communicate on a variety of health and nutrition topics. His most recent book is entitled: A Healthier Ever After.
With so many people showing up for the festival, the organizers are already planning next year's event to be bigger and better than ever. If this year's response is any indication, the vegans and vegetarians of NYC will be eagerly waiting to attend.