If you happen to stroll by your local community garden or Trader Joe’s parking lot and notice that they’re suspiciously empty, fear not; you have not been left behind by the vegetarian rapture. Rather, herbivores will be descending on Roxbury’s Reggie Lewis Athletic Center for the Boston Vegetarian Food Fest.
The event, in its 15th year of spreading the joy of soy, has grown into one of the largest of its kind in the country.
“We actually started doing two days last year,” says Evelyn Kimber, president of the Boston Vegetarian Society and co-founder of the BVFF. “We were worried, like, ‘What if no one shows?’ But then we opened the doors, people poured in and we were packed for both days.”
For guest speaker Martin Rowe, who has been featured at the BVFF almost every year since its inception, the diversity of the audience is one of the things that makes this Boston tradition so special.
“There’s no one movement being represented here,” says Rowe. “Some people who come are just really into food, and come for all the stores and vendors, and to check out what’s being done with meat analogues. Others come for the health factor, or for animal-welfare concerns. Still others come because they feel spiritually connected to the ideas being represented. It really brings people from different groups of communities together.”
In his talk, Rowe will address the environmental impacts of the meat-centric American diet and what changes need to be made in how we produce and consume meat if we want to give ourselves a chance of survival.
“Trajectories show that the way we currently consume meat is unsustainable in terms of the resources that it requires,” Rowe says. “We are going to have to find different ways to produce it, and it’s going to be in smaller quantities and probably more expensive. The fundamental question everyone needs to ask themselves is: ‘Can I continue to eat the same amount of meat or drink the same amount of milk?’”
Another of the festival’s notable speakers, Dr. Michael Greger, will talk about the most recent research on how to make a meat-free lifestyle work.
“One of the primary subjects that I’m going to be addressing is the lack of vitamin B12 in the diets of vegans and vegetarians. I’m also going to be talking about this new fad called Kombucha,” he adds, chuckling. “It’s this drink with chunks of slimy fungus that are supposed to be really good for you, but they’re actually toxic. They can turn your blood to acid and put you into a coma.”
While the festival does predictably draw monster numbers from the vegan and vegetarian sets, the target audience, according to Kimber, is the general meat-eating public.
“We have over 100 exhibitors giving out really amazing plant-based foods, and we just want to show people there are really delicious vegetable alternatives available,” Kimber says. “Through the food samples at the booths, the speakers and the chefs doing demos, we hope to introduce people to the flavors of vegetarian cuisine as well as celebrate our communities.”
BOSTON VEGETARIAN FOOD FESTIVAL
SATURDAY 10.30.10, 10AM-6PM
AND SUNDAY 10.31.10, 10AM-4PM
REGGIE LEWIS ATHLETIC CENTER
1350 TREMONT ST.