We hopped in the car today and took off in the opposite direction from yesterday and on to another vegan adventure. Sacramento’s vegan community has worked its tail off promoting veganism and creating meet-up groups and events for the public. Although Sacramento is about 70 miles away, it is the nearest, most active vegan meet-up group we’ve found so far. The organizers are passionate and generous, paying for the event costs out of their own pockets to share the benefits of a vegan diet and lifestyle with the public.
Southside Park, the venue for this event, is located just off the freeway and only a couple of miles from the capitol building. It covers a large area and includes the amphitheater area in which the Fall Fest was taking place as well as a large playground, picnic tables, a community pool, a pond complete with waddling ducks, and plenty of open space complete with lightning fast squirrels. Our favorite feature by far was the delightfully bizarre spaceship sculpture near the center of the park. Fashioned out of an old Airstream trailer, we couldn’t help but stand beneath it admiring its blinking lights and disembarking alien passengers along with all the other kids there.
When we arrived, we took a tour of the tables first, chatting with all kinds of enthusiastic vegans. One of the perks of a smaller venue is being able to have longer conversations. Everyone was friendly and easygoing; it really was a pleasure to speak to each one of them! We discovered that there is a pet sanctuary in Sacramento called Happy Tails and that there is also a pet food bank. We also picked up a sample of V-Dog, a vegan dog food, for our big, silly pup to try.
We learned more about the specific vegan groups active in Sacramento and how much they are doing to raise awareness about veganism. One of the major events going on now is the Vegan Chef Challenge in which 22 restaurants in Sacramento have created vegan items for their menus for the month of October. Patrons who visit the restaurants and order these items get to vote for their favorites. It’s an excellent idea, involving both restaurant owners and vegan and non-vegan diners in vegan food. It’s a perfect way to introduce people to what we vegans already know: Vegan food is scrumdiddlyumptious!
Generally when we attend these events that are so far from our area, we aren’t able to take advantage of most of the products and resources that the locals can. Today, a representative from It’s Organic was promoting his company’s organic fruit and vegetable delivery service. Each week or every other week, people who sign up can have a 13-16 lb. box of organic fruits, vegetables, or mixed fruits and vegetables delivered to the door for $30.00. That’s a great deal for organics. Organic produce is not only expensive here, but also oddly scarce. We are in awe of the selection of organics available at Whole Foods every time we make that 35 mile trek to the “big city” for vegan goodies.
When the representative asked if we were interested, however, we told him we were certain we lived too far away. He persisted and asked the name of our city. He grinned broadly upon learning where we were from and told us that although they don’t deliver to our area, the company was considering expanding to our area in the near future. He called his manager right there, and in a few weeks, we will become the first people in our town to receive a box of their organic fruits and vegetables! We are so excited! From that point on, every time he saw us he gave us a big smile and said, “The first in your city!” Woo hoo! The lonely vegans of this Central Valley town now get to be the trend setting vegans of this town!
Still riding high from that exciting news, we wandered over to the food vendors. We had some delicious vegan tamales from El Papagayo Restaurant first. They were excellent, but we couldn’t stop there. After finishing the tamales, we mosied over to The Plum Café’s table where they had barbeque tofu burritos.
Funny thing: many of our non-vegan friends tell us they couldn’t ever be vegan because they “don’t want to eat that much tofu.” Well, we very, very, very rarely eat tofu. My goodness, there are so many things vegans can eat! But it seems no one believes us because often, after explaining this to a friend, that very same friend will make the same comment again a few months later. Ah, well, we decided that, for funsies, we’d go ahead and eat tofu here. After all, we were at a vegan picnic and this is, apparently, what all vegans must eat. And boy, were those burritos tasty! I could have eaten more, but they sold out!
For dessert, we had Chocolate Almond Flake pops from DavePops. They are made by hand using coconut flakes and dark chocolate almond milk. Mmmm…. Delicious! They ended up selling out, too, which is good because otherwise we would have left with much less in our wallets and way too much in our tummies. DavePops’ season for selling ends in November, but Dave said he’ll be selling them again in April. I took his card and am going to mark my calendar. They were that good!
On the stage, the first speaker was Dr. Don Forrester, MD. Discovering that Dr. Forrester would be speaking at a Sacramento Forks Over Knives meet-up a few months ago led us to becoming familiar with the vegan community in Sacramento. He has spoken at several events they hosted and is always informative and accessible. Today he spoke about the benefits of a plant-based diet in treating diabetes, kidney disease, obesity, and cardiac disease. Afterwards, he also made himself available offstage to answer people’s questions about health and veganism. Dr. Forrester is another doctor that I respect and consider an important resource for vegans and the vegan-curious. Check out his website for more information and for links to additional resources on health and a plant-based diet.
We also listened to Kim Sturla, Executive Director of Animal Place. She provided information regarding the tragically high number of farm animals that are killed for food in our country each year and the tortured lives those animals lead. Ms. Sturla went on to describe the intelligence and unique personalities of the very same animals, sharing a few anecdotes from animals she has known at the sanctuary over the years. Animal Place is a terrific organization, providing love and care for many rescued farm animals. If you live near Grass Valley, CA, I urge you to take a tour of their beautiful sanctuary so that you can give a pig a belly rub and hear the stories of the many animals who live there. Each animal has a special story, and the employees, interns, and volunteers will tell you all about them.
Throughout all of it, there were stories being read to children and coloring pages available in the Young Artist Art Gallery for the kids. Later in the afternoon, there was vegan-friendly entertainment including a short performance, some vegan poetry, and a smile-inducing, toe-tapping, uniquely vegan Parade of the Vegetables! They took a lap around the amphitheater area, giving people high fives and kicking it veg-style to “Eye of the Tiger.” Pure awesome.
Once again, we came home with tons of literature, goodies, bumper stickers, dates to mark on our calendar, and, I’ll admit it, a saucy little red v-neck shirt for me that says “Compassion is Sexy. Go Vegan.” Ooh-la-la! My hubby bought it for me. He’s a good guy – but you already knew that, ‘cuz he’s vegan!
So ends our festivalful (an invented word, sure, but it’s fun to say) weekend. California’s gas prices are brutal, but the weather was beautiful and all the vegan company we had was beautiful as well! Thank you Sacramento Vegan Challenge, Sacramento Vegetarian Society, Sacramento Vegan Society, and all the other sponsors for this inaugural Vegan Fall Fest and Picnic! We’ll see you again soon!