BU News Service
Thousands of foodies, environmentalists, and animal rights activists descended on the Reggie Lewis Track and Athletic Center in Roxbury Saturday for the 21st Annual Boston Veg Food Fest, organized by the Boston Vegetarian Society (BVS).
The BVS transformed the center’s basketball courts into a sea of 120 booths offering everything from meatless jerky to animal-free cosmetics. Festival goers waded through crowded aisles sampling vegetarian and vegan treats from vendors and adding leaflets from activist groups to their canvas bags.
Kathleen Shaw, a vegan who does not eat animal products, was particularly excited about a cashew-based “cheese” that was entirely dairy free.
“Cheese is one of the hard ones to replace,” Shaw said. “But it’s nice to have cheese that melts on pizza.”
This year’s festival was the second Shaw and her daughter Christine have attended. She said they returned because of the great speakers the event draws. In addition to the vendors and informational displays, the Veg Food Fest also hosts a series of speakers who offer health tips, urge ethical treatment of animals, and share tasty vegetarian recipes at cooking demos.
“The speakers give you a lot of information … and have some great recipes to share, too,” Shaw said.
Several vendors had products available for visitors who wanted to expand their animal-free lifestyle to more than just their diet. Kathie Fox of The Fanciful Fox was showcasing vegan beauty products.
“We live a vegan lifestyle which means we don’t use or wear anything with animal products in it,” said Fox, gesturing to a display of soaps in front of her. “The bath and body industry is mostly non-vegan, so we have made this product that is vegan for vegan consumers.”
On the other end of the spectrum, some participants were just entering the world of vegetarianism for the first time.
Randy Duguay traveled down from Raymond, New Hampshire, with his wife to check out the festival despite not being a vegetarian himself. Duguay said his favorite vegan dish was the coconut milk ice cream, but he wasn’t ready to convert full time.
“I just wanted to try something I’m not used to trying and enjoying it,” said Duguay.
His wife, Brittany, is giving vegetarianism a go, though.
“I haven’t had meat in about three months,” she said. “I’m going to see how long I can last.”