Veggie Fest 2016: Vegan treats, eats, meditation and relaxation in Chicagoland

Veggie Fest 2016: Vegan treats, eats, meditation and relaxation in Chicagoland
2016-07-25 05:12:28 UTC

“What do you eat?”

It’s a common (and sometimes annoying) question that vegans and vegetarians are asked all of the time. But the next time someone asks that question, just say, “Go to Veggie Fest and find out.”

Veggie Fest 2016 celebrated its 11th year of information on meditation, healthy living, beauty, yoga and scrumptious vegan food. With approximately 800 worldwide volunteers ready to help, a record-breaking 40,000 veggie lovers swarmed the festival on Sat., July 23, and Sun., July 24, at the Science of Spirituality in Lisle, Illinois.

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                                                                  Photo credit: Shamontiel L. Vaughn

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For Taste of Chicago visitors, imagine an animal- and eco-friendly version of that, with guests actually making a point of using the recycling bins while doing just as much snacking and socializing. Finding a parking spot was an adventure in itself, but with a parking price tag of $0, circling the massive lot on the hunt for a car pulling out was worth it. Shuttle buses were available, too, but plenty of people walked over in packs and were greeted by friendly staff members near the front of the outdoor festival.

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                                                                  Photo credit: Shamontiel L. Vaughn

Some of the big names, such as Gardein, were out to share their food samples (spicy vegan chick'n and fishless filets). Quinoa, rainbow cauliflower, jackfruit, Asian barbecue popcorn, chips and salsa, rice chips, green tea, and protein bars were a few freebies that guests could taste test from an assortment of food product vendors. Selfie lovers could even get ahold of free yellow tote bags from Nature’s Path before they headed over to clothing and jewelry vendors for souvenirs.

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But what was even cooler was all of the hot (and cold) menu items from the Food Court area. All of the food was made by volunteers from the Science of Spirituality monthly cooking course. Some of the vegan highlights from the Food Court area included BBQ chicken pizza, sausage and green pepper pizza, cookie dough ice cream, Caribbean spicy veggie chicken and rice, seasoned fries, sushi and tofu pockets, carrot cake and lemon bars.* Wash it all down with fresh fruit (ex. watermelon), bottled water, cold iced tea and lemonade, organic almond fig drinks and Berry Blast smoothies. **

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                                                                 Photo credit: Shamontiel L. Vaughn

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                                                                 Photo credit: Shamontiel L. Vaughn

Each food ticket was $1, and the best part was on a scorching hot day in the 90s, bottled water was at almost every stand, making it much easier to stay hydrated.

For festival goers who wanted a little “me” time, they could sneak into a tent behind the Food Court to “Learn to Meditate.” Although it may have been a challenge blocking out live instrumentals of Marvin Gaye and other hits, some got it done, along with finding out what else was going on in the Health and Wellness area.

Keynote speaker Sant Rajinder Singh Ji Maharaj was a crowd hit. Other international speakers included Arran Stephens, founder and CEO of Nature’s Path Foods Inc.; Kim Allan Williams, president of the American College of Cardiology and a professor at Rush University Medical Center's Division of Cardiology; and Terry Mason MD, Chief Operating Officer of Cook County Health and Hospitals System, and more.

Although the constant threat of either a heatwave or thunderstorm threatened to make the two-day fest end early, hundreds flocked from food to shopping vendors to health vendor stands, while the band played on. Live music came from Zach, Gizzae, V. Holmes’ “A Tribute to the Motown Greats,” Rico Band, The Giving Tree Band and Chevere.

While the event is complete for 2016, Science of Spirituality has plenty more events to come. Visit for more information on the festival. 

And for Chicagoans who missed out on the Veggie Fest 2016, Chicago VeganMania in the City of Chicago (Edgewater) will be here in no time: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., on Sat., Oct. 1, in the Broadway Armory at 5917 N. Broadway.


Recommended Reading: 

"Get vegged out in Arizona's top-notch vegan restaurants

"Maui Hawaii makes vegan, vegetarian cuisine easy to come by


* There were far more vegan and vegetarian food items. These were just the vegan dishes that Shamontiel purchased.

** There were far more vegan and vegetarian drink options. These were just the vegan drinks that Shamontiel purchased. 

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