It was a perfect sunny summer day Saturday for the 8th annual VegFest in the historic downtown district of Bethlehem at Daniel Rice field. The growing vegan culture and a sustainable lifestyle was celebrated with plenty of activities for adults and children. There were guest speakers and cooking demonstrations, and plenty of vendors on hand, pigs that created art, and of course, an abundance of Vegan food.
Joe, from the Bethlehem Food Co-Op (pictured left to right: Missy, Joe, Joan, and Jim), explained that basically they’re a community owned grocery store that carries organic and sustainable foods. They currently have 630 members, but need more. Membership does come with privileges such as discounts and specials. The Bethlehem Food Co-Op does provide food to everyone.
Fish Feel, represented by Mary Finelli, is the first organization that promotes the recognition of fish as sentient beings deserving of respect and compassion. Mary explained, “there is something very wrong with the fishing industry, the fish are caught in an inhuman way. They experience fear, and feel pain.”
Several years ago a study was conducted which showed almost a 100 million fish and shellfish were killed annually for food in the U.S. compared to almost 9 million chickens and turkeys and 35 million cows. Fish Feel provides fish alternative recipes such as tofu to recreate a vegan tuna salad dish. For more recipes, go to their website: www.fishfeel.org
At the Rodale Institute, a nonprofit farm in Kutztown, Hanna filled the baskets with vegetables she recently grew. She commented that they participate in a weekly share in Allentown, and EBT is accepted. https://rodaleinstitute.org/
Tucked away in the shade under trees was The Original Vegan Treats Specialty Bakery, which had steady lines for their decadent desserts such as S’mores Cheesecake and Strawberry Cheesecake on a stick.
Sodexo at Lehigh Valley Health Network provided the first cooking demonstration, which featured Suzanne Ickes, RD, LDN and Chef Andrew Taylor, as they discussed Health Benefits of a Vegan/Plant forward diet. Suzanne Ickes is a registered dietitian and a vegetarian, and Andrew Taylor, has experienced a successful career as a chef, and recently recruited by Sodexo. Chef Taylor prepared a great summer dish, Toasted Turmec Quinoa and Eggplant salad with a honey mustard vinaigrette dressing.
From the array of food trucks that lined the field, it was time to see some of the choices for lunch. Making their first visit to VegFest (pictured Keerstin and Jenni),
Keerstin chose the Buffalo Chicken Mac & Cheese. “We decided to start with lunch first, before checking out the booths”, Keerstin remarked. Jenni went with the pierogies and Chicken Gyros.
Sitting close by (pictured left to right: Kaitlin, Jenni, and Kim) Kim boasted that this is their third year at VegFest. “I love seeing the community grow, and the families and children”, she commented. Kim ordered an Empanada and Mac & Cheese. Kaitlin enjoyed her Avocado Fiesta, and Jenni chose the Tofu Bombay.
There were musical acts throughout the day, first on the bill, one of Lehigh Valley’s favorite cover bands, Alias. They offered a wide selection of songs ranging from the 70’s to today’s popular hits.
Some Fest-goers chose to get in the spirit of creating their own donut toppings at DIY Donuts, as pictured, two youngsters piled on the toppings and created their own masterpieces.
VegFest is also a dog friend event, giving dogs the chance to meet new friends of the four-legged variety. Many merchants kept dog bowls full of water to accommodate man’s best friend on this hot day.
One of the popular attractions for the children was Pig Art, sponsored by PPN (Pig Placement Network). Children were able to sit in the pen and pet the pigs. Others supplied the pigs with paint on paper, and with a little bit of a snack placed on top of the covered painting, the pigs were properly motivated to rub their snout and sometimes hoof over the paint to create abstract artwork.
VegFest enjoyed another successful year as more awareness was raised in choosing this dietary lifestyle in the Lehigh Valley. We look forward to next year’s VegFest with more delectable dishes, great music, and fun for our families and friends.