Full disclosure: I am not a vegan, vegetarian, Democrat, Republican, liberal, or conservative, I am self-made nutrition expert promoting my brand, HealthGuruJim, and I’ve enjoyed attending the VegFest ever since it’s humble beginnings at Ferndale high school. It was too small to attract big name speakers, and wasn’t nearly so crowded; one could easily eat thousands of delicious calories from incredible free samples in the basement area. The lines were short, it was a bike ride or short drive—with free parking—for most patrons and, because of its size, it promoted a comfortable atmosphere of healthy eaters, more like a “secret club” than a huge expo.
As happy as I am to see VegFest become as successful as it has, I can’t help but miss the intimacy of his humble beginning. I’ve become accustomed, in my role as a reporter, to write about fantastic under-attended events, but this is one case where popularity has almost become a problem.
When I write that VegFest is for everyone, what I mean to say is that VegFest is for humans who care about their own bodies and the planet on which they live. It is for that reason that I insist that, as a matter of fact, this is one of the most important expos you and your family could possibly attend, as long as you can tolerate crowds.
Because I had just five hours to explore, I opted to visit every vendor exhibit, but there were loads of celebrity role models, doctors, and authors to inspire intellectually curious attendees. Star Trek’s Michael Dorn, Humane Society’s CEO Wayne Pacelle, How Not to Die author Michael Greger M.D., PETA’s sexiest vegan over 50 and Summa cum Laude UofM alum (in order of importance:-) Dr. Joel Kahn, The Vegan Diet as Chronic Disease Prevention author Kerrie Saunders PhD, author and two-time Emmy winner Ellen Jaffe Jones, Fox2 contributor Velonda Anderson Ph.D., and international speaker, artist, writer, and animal liberation activist Emily Moran Barwick were all there, to name a few.
There are countless ways to earn a living in America, and most of them either do nothing to promote the health of the human body, our society, or our planet, however, I believe that every exhibitor made a conscious decision to become part of the solution, rather than part of the problem, when founding his or her business. The following are a very small handful of organizations with whom I either had productive conversations, bought their product, or both.
Lady Jane Gourmet Seed Co and Debra’s Foods are familiar sights going back many years, and I always buy some wonderful hemp seeds and the best tasting [max’s] granola I’ve ever tasted from each vendor, respectively. My favorite new vendors include the Good Fat Company (goodfat.bar), Gluten Free Bar (theglutenfreebar.com), That’s it (the 2 ingredient snack, thatsitfruit.com) and, perhaps my new favorite, Cason (DrinkCason.com). Each one of these founders decided to put all of his or her energy, time, and money into a product that benefits our health, rather than detract from it. In our current toxic landscape, that has never been more important.
There were also plenty of organizations looking to increase the quality of life of people, animals, and/or the planet in non-consumable ways. Wish Upon a Teen sponsors many programs that make the lives of seriously sick teens a little bit more bearable. The American Humanist Association was promoting the novel idea to “…lead ethical lives of personal fulfillment that aspire to the greater good of humanity.” Mary Bann was promoting free Bemer sessions, a little known device in this country, but used by NASA, and millions of professional athletes and regular folks in Europe for increased circulation, incredibly important for health and longevity. WWF, PETA, The Humane Society, and many other vegan, animal, and human rights organizations were busy educating and possibly recruiting new members to fight the good fight against selfishness, cruelty, and ignorance.
There are expos for almost any niche topic you can imagine, but not all expos are equal, or of equal importance. You may like guns or comic books or Star Trek but, as much as you might even love them, you CAN live without them. Two things you can’t live without? Your body and your planet. It is not my opinion, but a fact that health expos in general, and VegFest specifically, represent the best use of your time, and each exhibitor represents the best of us giving back in a positive way. The good news is that VegFest happens every year, but don’t just want around for the next one. There are literally hundreds of health expos held around metro Detroit every year, most are inexpensive or free, and all of them can inspire you to try new healthy products or make some positive changes in your life.
I have also attended many other “niche interest” expos in my life, and most were great. My opinion was that they were great because they were of interest to me. But they weren’t important. In our society, gun collecting and shooting can be a fun hobby but, unless you are among a very small percentage of the population whose career involves firearms, a gun expo is no different than a comic book expo. VegFest is different, informative, and fun for everyone.
I might go shooting next week, and I’m looking forward to the Motor City Comic Con later this month, but I chose to eat healthy every day. Individual interests and opinions are great, but nothing should be more important to you and your family than your health and the health of our planet.
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For more information, be sure to visit http://vegmichigan.org/
James M Stange aka HealthGuruJim
Events Coordinator and Reporter for Greening Detroit