VegFest, metro Detroit’s premier vegetarian tastefest and expo, returns to the Suburban Collection Showplace in Novi for its annual event on April 29.
Presented by VegMichigan, VegFest features notable local and national speakers, including Wayne Pacelle, president of the Humane Society of the United States; NBA champJohn Salley, back by popular demand; author and sustainability activist Dr. Richard Oppenlander; DMC preventive cardiology and wellness director Joel Kahn M.D. and others on the health, environmental and ethical benefits of a plant-based diet.
In response to a record-breaking crowd of nearly 4000 last year, VegFest has expanded its main hall space at Suburban Collection Showplace. In addition to more than a dozen speakers, panelists and cooking and raw-food demonstrators, the event will feature tasty vegan cuisine from 50 local restaurants and bakeries along with national brand samples, a diverse array of exhibitors, children’s activities, door prizes, literature, cookbooks and more.
Major sponsors include BetterHealth Stores, The Medicine Cabinet Pharmacy of Southfield and Whole Foods Market. Media sponsors include 93.9 The River, Natural Awakenings Magazines of East Michigan, Lansing and Wayne County and the NAN Discount Card Network.
“More people than ever are trying to eat less meat, whether it’s for health, environment or animal compassion,” says event chair Wendy Jones. “We’ve expanded VegFest this year to accommodate the ever-growing crowds. With more space, more presenters and more food and activities, this will be the best VegFest yet.”
As president and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States, keynote speaker Wayne Pacelle has played a leading role in transforming the nation’s largest animal protection charity into a dynamic public force and voice for animals. With a special interest in law reform, he has led several successful ballot initiatives that outlawed cockfighting, factory farming cruelties, bear baiting, negligent puppy mill operations and a host of other inhumane practices. Pacelle also authored the best-selling book, “The Bond: Our Kinship with Animals, Our Call to Defend Them.” He speaks at noon.
NBA champ and TV personality John Salley returns to VegFest, having drawn record-breaking crowds to the event the past three years. Salley helped lead the Detroit Pistons, Chicago Bulls and L.A. Lakers to NBA championships before retiring from basketball to host the Emmy-nominated “Best Damn Sports Show Period” and has since appeared in numerous TV shows and films. Salley is vegan – meaning he neither eats nor uses animal products – and he passionately believes that this diet choice improved his game and his life. He speaks at 1 p.m.
Also speaking at VegFest are Dr. Richard Oppenlander, sustainability activist and author of the acclaimed book “Comfortably Unaware,” speaking on global depletion and food responsibility; Joel Kahn M.D., director of preventive cardiology and wellness at Detroit Medical Center Hospitals, addressing our city’s bad reputation for obesity and heart disease;Dr. Kerrie Saunders, author, columnist and health and nutrition expert, speaking on successful weight-loss strategies; and Jim Corcoran, co-founder of VegMichigan, Plant Peace Daily, VegFund and Santa Fe Veg, introducing VegMichigan. Jason Wrobel, former Detroiter-turned-“raw chef to the stars,” will present a food demonstration, as will George Vutetakis, executive chef at Garden Fresh Gourmet and author of “Vegetarian Traditions: Favorite Recipes from My Years at the Legendary Inn Season Café,” Jan Kemp, M.Sc., Whole Foods Market health educator and Tina Miller, MS, RD, Meijer dietician.
VegFest takes place from 11 am until 5 pm on Sunday, April 29 at Suburban Collection Showplace, located at 46100 Grand River Ave. in Novi.
Admission is $10 at the door; $5 for students; free for children under 6 and VegMichigan members. Parking is $5 per vehicle. For memberships, advance discounted tickets and information on sponsorship, exhibiting, volunteering or the day’s schedule, contact VegMichigan toll free at 877-778-3464 or visit www.vegmichigan.org.