Vegfest, now in its 10th year, is a sampling extravaganza that attracts all kinds — vegetarians, vegans, the lactose intolerant and the simply hungry. Organizers figure only half of the about 15,000 people who visit this weekend have forsworn meat or cheese.
Danika Hall, 4, highly recommends the new almond-milk yogurt by Cascade Fresh.
“It was great,” she proclaimed after sampling Amande, which is at Whole Foods now and rolling into local Fred Meyer, PCC and other stores.
Her parents were thrilled: their trip from Monroe to Vegfest 2011 at Seattle Center Exhibition Hall was already paying off.
“It’s the first time she’s liked an alternative yogurt,” said Danika’s mother, Kirsten Hall, who is allergic to milk and likes to find dairy substitutes the whole family will eat.
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Tasting yogurt, ice cream, chips and dips from nearly 200 booths at Vegfest is more efficient than trial and error at home, said Danika’s father, Chad Hall. “It’s easier than buying a whole bunch and having her turn her nose up.”
Vegfest, now in its 10th year, is a sampling extravaganza that attracts all kinds — vegetarians, vegans, the lactose intolerant and the simply hungry. Organizers figure only half of the roughly 15,000 people who visit this weekend have forsworn meat or cheese.
They are “veg curious,” said Stewart Rose, who coordinates the event for Vegetarians of Washington. The event is meant to expose people to more options, not persuade them to change.
“We don’t hit people over the head with the tofu,” said Rose, who said the group knows how personal food decisions are.
Some family members are not so sensitive, to hear vegetarian attendees tell it.
Sarah Bergstrom understands why her mother wants to try local seafood when she visits from New Mexico. What is harder to fathom is her response to Bergstrom’s not wanting to see her tear open a cooked lobster.
“‘Honey, I think you’re using that term wrong. Lobster is not an animal,’ ” Bergstrom recalled her mother saying.
Wendy Greene, of Maple Valley, ate one slice of meat a month when she was pregnant so she could assure her father she was eating meat, she said.
Now her 14-year-old niece, Cheyenne, catches flak about her budding vegetarianism from her father and brothers, who are hunters. Cheyenne did not want to give her last name.
The transition went more smoothly for Abby Cary, who flew from Colorado Springs, Colo., to attend Vegfest as research for her senior essay on the history of vegetarianism. The college student is a vegan, which means she eats no meat, dairy or eggs.
She inspired her mother to become a vegetarian, and her brother has given up all meat except fish.
Tana Watanabe, a freshman at Willamette University in Salem, Ore., said she feels better physically since giving up meat, dairy and processed sugar last summer. She eats four or five small meals a day, and takes a multivitamin and protein powder.
Her mother, Barbara Watanabe, is a doctor who notices the improvement in her daughter’s health.
“I think it’s fine as long as she gets the nutrients,” said Watanabe, who has cooked white bean chili and mushroom-garbanzo pasta sauce for Tana’s visits home. “You have to be supportive of your children.”
Melissa Allison: 206-464-3312 or firstname.lastname@example.org