March 2nd, 2013. Approximately 1:15 pm. My eyes scanned the scene and my feet led me forward towards an event that can only be described as a direct bull’s eye, right up my alley. This girl was in heaven and it happened to be located here on earth in downtown Chelsea, NYC, nowhere near a clear blue sky and fluffy clouds. This heaven was filled with booths, venders and cheery people. All of these welcoming, friendly individuals were here because they care about what I care about- respect for people, animals and the planet and a desire to eat as much yummy food along the way as possible. Actually, scratch that. The food wasn’t yummy, it was decadent. This is the only appropriate word to describe the organic Basilicotta cashew basil dip I sampled by the Regal Vegan Company or the chocolate cherry peanut butter I delighted in by Saratoga Peanut Butter Company. And I refuse to completely express my feelings regarding the all-natural beauty products I sampled and the essential oils I spritzed by The Fanciful Fox Handmade Soaperie Company. That would take too long and I am afraid I would embarrass myself with an over-usage of too many glowing adjectives even more ornate than the words I will actually write here: ambrosial and flowery odoriferous delight!
Maybe I will just call it a high off of life kind of day, but my glee is not exaggerated. The reasons why I delight in these sort of events is manifold and it begins with the realization that living a healthy, sustainable, compassionate lifestyle does not have to involve sacrifice, bland food, or lack of pleasure. The companies found at the Vegetarian Food Festival were walking the talk; they were proof that with motivation, education, hard work (because let’s face it, producing all of that Basilicotta dip takes significant effort and a sincere love of cashews), and passion, it IS possible to enjoy food that is as beneficial for our microscopic cells as it is tasty AND we can smell good without using toxic chemicals on our bodies. These are just a few examples of how living a healthful, toxic-free existence does not have to be difficult.
Additionally, vegetarian and even more so, vegan, diets support the health of the planet to an extent that most people would be shocked to discover. As a team of climate scientists representing the World Preservation Foundation have acknowledged, up to 51% of annual worldwide greenhouse gas emission is due to livestock production and their by-products. The connection between our health, the health of the planet and the well-being of the animals we share it with is strongly interconnected and I enjoyed surrounding myself with people who are just as pumped up as I am about spreading the word about living this lifestyle of compassion and support for sustainability.
It is a team effort to make eating nutritiously more convenient, the health benefits increasingly well-known and the food as enjoyable as possible. That team effort was apparent at the festival and that is truly why I appreciated the fest as much as I did (in addition to the chocolate cherry peanut butter samples, obviously). For those of you reading this, don’t forget to stay motivated, continue educating yourself and supporting companies that parallel your values. The rewards are tangible and your conscience will thank you as you feel good about yourself for the actions you are taking to make the world a better place.