Monday, February 6, 2012

Sacramento VegFest

I attended the Sacramento VegFest at the Artisan Building on Del Paso Boulevard this weekend, and was excited to see what a great turnout there was for this event. Hundreds of people were there to check out the demonstrations and the exhibits, which did not disappoint.

I got there right at 11:00 a.m. when the event started because I wanted to hear the presentation by Chef AJ of Chef AJ's Healthy Kitchen, who advocates a whole food vegan diet. She made the important point that just because something is vegan doesn't necessarily mean that it's good for you. Chef AJ said that although she has been vegan since 1977, most of the food she ate during the early days of her vegan diet was junk food, especially junk food containing sugar. However, after she was diagnosed with colon cancer, she switched to a whole food vegan diet, which basically consists of unrefined vegetables, fruits, and grains, along with limited amounts of nuts and seeds. She stopped eating sugar, salt, and fat and, as a result, she says that her colon was healed without the need for surgery.

Chef AJ recommended a few books for people who are considering switching to a vegan lifestyle:

The End of Overeating: Taking Control of the Insatiable American Appetite, by former Food and Drug Administration Commissioner David A. Kessler, which talks about how our brain chemistry has been taken over by foods containing the ingredients we love the most: sugar, salt, and fat.

The China Study: Startling Implications for Diet, Weight Loss and Long-Term Health, by T. Colin Campbell and Thomas M. Campbell II, which is described on the book's cover as "the most comprehensive study of nutrition ever conducted." It examines the relationship between the consumption of animal products and various diseases, such as some forms of cancer, heart disease, and diabetes.

The Pleasure Trap: Mastering the Hidden Force that Undermines Health & Happiness, by Douglas J. Lisle and Alan Goldhamer, which explains why we make the choices we do, even when they're detrimental to our health, and what we can do get out of that trap.

Chef AJ also has a new book available, Unprocessed: How to Achieve Vibrant Health and Your Ideal Weight, which includes information and recipes about how to incorporate more fresh fruits and vegetables into your diet.

Several vendors attended this event with samples of their products. I would have to say that the tastiest food item I sampled was the Red Curry Squash Soup prepared by Mama Kim Cooks. It was sweet and flavorful and delicious, and I could eat it all winter long. Mama Kim Cooks has a mobile food truck, which didn't have much in the way of vegan offerings when I asked about their menu at the Chalk It Up festival over Labor Day weekend, but I was told at the VegFest that they generally have something vegan available. So I'll be watching for the food truck in the future with the hope that they'll be selling more of their fabulous Red Curry Squash Soup.

The Pecan Sandies offered by The Green Boheme, a raw vegan restaurant on Del Paso Boulevard, were also quite delicious. I don't know what all the ingredients were, but there were generous amounts of pecans combined into some kind of sweet mixture resembling dough. Yum!

The stretch of Del Paso Boulevard between Arden Way and El Camino Avenue seems to be turning into a kind of vegan hub, anchored by The Green Boheme restaurant and with the Artisan Building serving as an event venue for vegans or those who are vegan-curious. The Sacramento VegFest was the second vegan event I've attended there in the past several months, the first being the appearance by Dr. Neal Barnard in September to promote his book, 21-Day Weight Loss Kickstart: Boost Metabolism, Lower Cholesterol, and Dramatically Improve Your Health. In both cases, the building was filled to the point of feeling crowded, which would seem to indicate that the number of people who are interested in the vegan lifestyle continues to grow. It would be great if more Sacramento restaurants would pay attention to this trend and add a few vegan options to their menus.

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