by Sue Ann Rybak
Local residents packed the corner of Greene St. and Carpenter Lane in West Mt. Airy on Sunday for Weavers Way’s annual Vegan Fest. Attendees feasted on a smorgasbord of vegan entrees: black bean chipotle dip, smoked apple sausage, tofu and veggie dogs, pizza made with Daiya cheese, vegan tuna salad made with Nayonaise, “Groothies” (smoothies made from greens and fresh fruit) and even – chocolate.
This year’s festival coincided with National Meat Out Day, whose organizers challenge participants to “kick the meat habit” and let their taste buds experience a variety of vegan delights.
Jonathan McGoran, of Weavers Way, said the co-op wanted to provide information about the benefits of a vegan diet and educate people on how to do it responsibly.
“We offer a lot of vegan food,” McGoran said. “We wanted to support and provide a venue for people. It is an opportunity for people to try a lot of vegan food and learn more about the vegan diet.”
Attendees munched on samples from Raw Revolution, Fresh Tofu, Field Roast, Kashi, Newman’s Organics, Amy’s, Hempzels, Get Real…Get Raw, Sweet Freedom, Little Jimmie’s and many more.
Participants could also sample products from Leaping Bunny, Nwenna Kai, Fitbliss Organics, Plantfusion and Crazy Rumors.
Lisa Maguire, founder of the nonprofit Get Real…Get Raw, gave participants samples of her “Groothies” – smoothies made from greens and various fruit.
“We just opened our first outreach office in North Philadelphia,” Maguire said.
Get Real…Get Raw works with schools to promote their “Fresh ‘n Focused Snack Program which consists of “Groothies,” fresh fruit and “Fruit whips,” frozen fruit blended to the consistency of ice cream.
The program offers kids the opportunity “to experience how their body reacts when it is fed nutritionally.”
Shawn House, who owns Lancaster Trading House, Inc., was also offering attendees samples: hemp seed, pretzels, mustard and granola bars.
“We do a soft pretzel, which beats the Philadelphia Pretzel hands down,” House said. “It’s wheat with hemp seed, hemp flour and hemp oil.”
While the majority of attendees were neither vegan nor vegetarian, the festival provided people the chance to have fun and learn about the benefits of a vegan diet.
“I chose to be a vegetarian because after watching documentaries about how they treat animals,” Priscilla Lico said. “I just can’t imagine eating animals that have all that growth hormone and antibiotics.”
Mia Bird said she came with her 5-year-old daughter Caitima Bird to enjoy some delicious grilled vegan food and music.
“It’s just so awesome to have something that people would normally not experiment with or try,” said Bird, who is on a vegan diet for 40 days. “It’s important to keep an open mind.”