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Vegetarian Summerfest 2006: Vegetarians on a MIssion

Posted Oct 01 2008 9:06pm
Johnstown, PA truly is pretty much in the middle-of-nowhere in western Pennsylvania. Getting there isn't easy. It's 2 hours east of Pittsburgh. Yet, 500 or so vegetarians, mostly the radical vegan kind (this is a joke which is a tough thing to tell in print), get there from all over the United States, plus Canada and perhaps even from other countries.

The speaker line up was impressive, not just because it included me, but Howard Lyman, Caldwell Esselstyn, M.D., Erik Marcus, and more took to the podium. If you want to see who was there so that you can plan your trip for next year, take a look at http://vegetariansummerfest.org/.

In addition to lectures there are also cooking demonstrations, short talks, entertainment and exercise classes. I did make it to one (just one unfortunately) early morning yoga class and part of a wand exercise class. Just walking from the Living/Learning Center at The University of Pittsburgh, Johnstown to the cafeteria would seem like plenty of exercise were it not for the unlimited quanity of food served at each meal. While the non-veg among us (and there were some) didn't get their meat, egg or dairy fix, they did not go hungry.

In addition to 2 salad bars, there was fruit available at every meal, and at dinner there were 2 buffet lines of cooked foods, a stir-fry station and a raw food line. There was also dessert at both lunch and dinner. Usually I need to eat between meals but with exhibitors such as Primal Spirit and their Primal strips and Lara Bar with Lara bar samples, I was never hungry. There were only 4 hours between the end of lunch and the start of dinner. Although I usually like to eat early, dinner at 5:30 when lunch ended at 1:30 (perhaps with cooking demo tastes in between) was too much for me. Yet, I didn't skip a single meal except on the day that I arrived when I skipped both breakfast and lunch but not by choice. My next few days of eating got me back into balance (or I should say tipped the scales the other way).

If you have the time to attend Summerfest, look into it for next year. It's an amazing vegetarian/vegan experience - like summer camp for your mind and body.
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