Vegging Out Takes on New Meaning with Erie's First Ever VegFest
Stop by VegFest 2016 and discover the fun in a plant-based lifestyle.
Saturday, Sept. 24, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m
Whether you are the gung-ho vegan, the reluctant vegetarian (because the spouse is), or the curious carnivore, Erie's first ever VegFest will have something for everyone to eat, experience, or learn. With hula-hoop and karate demonstrations, activities at VegFest will be as varied as the reasons for eating plant-based diets.
"We originally went vegan for health reasons," said Lisa Casler, co-founder of Erie Vegan and Vegetarian Society. "But we quickly became dedicated to improving vegan options and education here in Erie."
Years ago, ordering a vegetarian meal at a restaurant basically guaranteed a sub stacked thick with cheese and a tomato thrown on top. Thanks to the creativity of a few local business owners, however, the days of boring vegetarian meals are long gone.
"After years of watching vegetarian friends piece together meals of tiny side salads and baked potatoes, I knew I wanted to diversify my menu so everyone could enjoy their food and have fun," said Katie Schmid, owner of Lucky Louie's Beer and Wieners on Route 97. Schmid's menu includes 32 jazzed-up wieners, 28 of which can be made entirely vegetarian by swapping in a vegan jumbo Smart Dog, which is something she will do as a vendor at VegFest.
Shimmy Shack, a 100 percent vegan and gluten-free food truck out of Michigan, will offer tantalizing burger-and-fries culinary delights that dare even the most committed carnivore to find these treats less than spectacular. According to their website, Shimmy Shack's mission is to "[remove] the stigma attached to the word "vegan" [by] showing how awesome, tasty, sexy, and filling vegan food can be."
Tandoori Hut, Moe's Southwest Grill, Pizza Pete's Pizzeria, and Golden Wok will also provide vegetarian and vegan samplings.
Aside from the food, watching Jennifer Dennehy's strikingly fluid hula-hoop dancing demonstrations will be worth the stop alone. After battling arthritis and a severe knee injury at a young age, Dennehy is proof that activity can combat pain and illness. Premier Martial Arts, The Village of Healing and Wellness, and other vendors will also provide demonstrations and information.
"There is more to veganism than just the types of foods we eat," Casler said. "We want VegFest to show that a plant-based lifestyle is about adding to life, not about subtracting from it."
Festival speakers include author and activist Victoria Moran – a self-proclaimed "obesity survivor," Dr. Richard Oppenlander, Bruce Friedrich, and Root Force Personal Training studio owners and Vegan Muscle and Fitness contributors Derek Tresize and Marcella Torres.
VegFest 2016 will be held Saturday, Sept. 24, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the Zem Zem Shriners Banquet and Conference Center at 2525 West 38th Street. The event is free and open to everyone.
For more information about Erie VegFest 2016, visit theerievegsociety.org/vegfest-2016.html.
Ti Sumner can be reached at TSumner@ErieReader.com.