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It’s raining vegetables, no meat in sight

The Northeast Florida Veg Fest is coming to the Riverside Park in Jacksonville. It is the first event of its kind in the area, bringing together over 50 vendors, including local companies, businesses and clubs, to supply health information, new recipes and ways to stop the animal cruelty related to the meat industry.

Julie Watkins, creator of the Northeast Florida Veg Fest, said she got the idea from the Central Florida Veg Fest event, which has been going on for nearly five years.

A year in the making, the Northeast Veg Fest is fully supported by community members, who raised $3,500 so the event could take place.

“Jacksonville isn’t a very vegetarian-friendly city,” Watkins said. “But obviously, the people want to learn more about vegetarianism because they have donated so much money to bring Veg Fest here.”

Watkins expects about 1,500 people to attend but hopes that’s an underestimate.

Madeline Edwards, a UNF communication senior and president of the UNF V.E.G.A.N.S. club, said the members are excited about Veg Fest.

She said they hope the event will help spread the word to students on campus about being a vegan or vegetarian.

The Girls Gone Green, Northeast Florida Vegetarian Society and S.A.V.E will host Veg Fest. The groups pooled their resourses to bring guest speakers, food demonstrations, a raffle, live music, pets for adoption and the highly anticipated local celebrity veggie dog-eating contest.

Vendors such as Massage Green, Arbonne, Native Sun and Grassroots Market are slated to display and sell their eco- and veg-friendly products and services, alongside animal rescue groups like CJ Animal Acres Rescue Farm and the Wildlife Rescue Coalition of Northeast Florida.

Cooking is a great way to add flavor and fun to any diet, but don’t worry if you have never sauteed or steamed before — there will be live food demos from vegan and vegetarian chefs on how make creative, wholesome dishes.

But if you’re more into the eating aspect of food, fear not, vendors such as Bistro AIX and Hovan Mediterranean are scheduled to offer free samples of meat-free cuisine.

If all the walking and eating wears you down, take a stroll to the 5 Points Theatre and settle into a seat for a short film or documentary. Among the 10 shows at the theater is the movie premiere of “Forks Over Knives.” Tickets for the movie are $5 and will be sold prior-to and during the event.

If you’ve eaten enough veggies to fuel your inner party animal, head over to Hovan Mediterranean restaurant at 8 p.m. for an after party stocked with free appetizers and a cash bar.

Watkins hopes the event will clear up misconceptions about these alternative lifestyles and show the community how being a vegan or vegetarian can improve your life in more ways than one.

“There are many myths about vegetarianism,” Watkins said. “We can have great, big muscles, too.”

The Northeast Florida Veg Fest will take place at the Riverside Park under the Fuller Warren Bridge and at the 5 Points Theatre on Park Street Nov. 6 from 11 a.m to 7 p.m.

For a complete schedule of events, check out nfvegfest-com.doodlekit.com/home.

Vegetarian/Vegan Myth Busters

Myth: They don’t get enough protein.

Truth: With our Western diet, Americans on average eat double their bodies’ needs and  the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for protein intake. Legumes, grains, and vegetables provide sufficient protein without the fat and saturated fat from animal products.  Would anyone question where a gorilla — a vegetarian and powerful animal — gets its protein?

Myth: They are picky eaters, difficult to cater to and don’t eat out at restaurants.

Truth: Being veg is easier and with more options than ever — dining in or out. The vegetarian/vegan and healthy eating trend in general is stimulating demand for availability of menu items and store selections.

Myth: Eating veg is expensive.

Truth: The hidden costs of an animal-based diet is staggering: land degradation,  water use, non-sustainability, resource pollution and contribution to greenhouse gases. Three UN bodies — UN’s Environment Programme (UNEP),  Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) — have produced studies and recommended eating less meat due to “livestock’s long shadow.” And dollar for dollar, meat and dairy can cost more than grains and vegetables.

Information provided by:
Deborrah  Hoag, Coordinator of the Northeast Florida Vegetarian Society

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