Veggie Fest: Good Food, Healthy Living

Naperville, Illinois

August 9-10, 2014

Banana and Giraffe at Veggie Fest

Banana and Giraffe at Veggie Fest

 

The real reason we spent an afternoon at Veggie Fest was to be outdoors. Summer was nearly over. I imagined we were going to some kind of glorified farmer’s market, and that was fine. Maybe I could pick up some peaches and tomatoes. Pretty lame, but that’s how it was.

The first inkling that this was different was the complimentary shuttle van between the fest and the parking lot. How much space did a few produce stalls take up if you couldn’t walk there? As we approached the entrance (free admission), we spotted acres and acres of white-canopied tents along with a dozen or so costumed characters: clowns, a stalk of celery, a banana, a cluster of grapes, a giraffe. Reggae music played in the background.

Turns out, Veggie Fest is a two-day celebration of the vegetarian lifestyle. There are other such festivals around the country, but this one is among the largest and oldest. The host sponsor since 2005 has been the Science of Spirituality, a multi-faith, global organization dedicated to personal transformation through meditation.

I’m not a vegetarian, much less a vegan, but I do feel a tad guilty whenever I eat meat, chicken or fish. I was curious to learn more.

At Veggie Fest, more than 100 exhibitors and vendors generously shared their knowledge and samples. Their ranks included food companies, purveyors of beauty and skin care products, yoga instructors, holistic dentists, chiropractors, publishers, nonprofits like Mercy for Animals and the Christian Vegetarian Association–and even a vegan travel agent. Humanitarian drives collected blood and non-perishable vegetarian food items for those in need.

Freshly grilled veggie kabobs

Freshly grilled veggie kabobs

At the Nada-Chair booth, we took a seat and were bound with a harness-like contraption that looked kinky, but it wasn’t. It wraps across your lower back and around your knees in a way that supports the spine and forces proper posture. Who knew just sitting upright for ten minutes could be so therapeutic?

Lectures and cooking demonstrations were conducted all day. Some were in Spanish. The keynote speaker was meditation guru Sant Rajinder Singh Ji Maharaj, who heads up the Science of Spirituality. Other sessions covered organic veggie gardening and helping children become healthy eaters. A chef from Whole Foods Market showed how to make vegan chocolate pudding. The recipe uses mashed avocado for a creamy consistency and dates for sweetness. The result was yummy and plenty chocolate-y.

On the menus in the for-purchase food court were kabobs, salads, sushi, falafel, samosas, pizza, hot dogs and smoothies–all veggie style, of course.

While all this eating was going on, we were entertained by a carnival of musicians, jugglers, face-painters, a magician and a costume parade.

The costume parade lends a carnival flavor at Veggie Fest

The costume parade lends a carnival flavor at Veggie Fest

All too soon, the day came to a close. We’ll definitely be back next year. On our way home, we stopped at the grocery store for peaches and tomatoes.

 

http://www.veggiefestchicago.org

http://www.sos.org

http://www.nadachair.com

http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com