Organizing the first LexVegFest was a great honor and opportunity. I met and worked with many wonderful people, some of whom became my close friends. We invited our community to come together and celebrate a plant-based lifestyle. We offered delicious plant-based foods, educational presentations, exhibits, yoga, and guided meditation. The day of the event was like a dream come true.
As one of our organizers noted: “It is all connected. When you eat calming food, you have calming thoughts.” I absolutely agree with that statement. Eight years ago, when my husband and I embraced a plant-based diet, we felt a sense of joy and liberation. I discovered a fresh zest for life that I did not know was possible before. My search for new meaning led to the emerging career of Health Coaching.
Empowered by a new world of plant-based nutrition, I became a Vegan Chef. I began offering cooking classes and launched my own podcast (Talk to a Doc). In Louisville, Lexington, and a number of other cities across the U.S., I helped organize the premiers of an important documentary, PlantPure Nation, about a grassroots movement to promote a healthy plant-based diet. As part of this movement two groups were launched in Lexington to support people on a plant-based journey. The outreach and networking experience I gained allowed me to start dreaming about having our own local VegFest. I found initial support from our local Lexington Vegan Society and scheduled the first meeting for January 14, 2016.
As it often happens the excitement and enthusiasm of the first couple of meetings faded and only a handful of people continued working with me till the end. We had a number of “moments of truth” where doubt and discouragement threatened to postpone and even cancel the event. Overall, a positive energy and genuine desire to share the knowledge of the benefits of a plant-based lifestyle carried us through.
Our local LexVegFest arrived at an opportune time in an air of curiosity about the plant-based lifestyle. On October 1st, 2016, World Vegetarian Day, Lexington was ready for a VegFest. With over 2000 people interested on FaceBook, the community enthusiasm exceeded my expectations. We had over 1500 people attend the event. Most vendors either sold out or nearly sold out. Dr. Debora Tallio, our keynote speaker, held an audience so captivated that after her presentation, she was invited to speak at a number of other events about the benefits of the whole foods plant-based diet.
Organizing the first LexVegFest was an amazing and humbling experience. With the support of our community, we plan to make it an annual affair. We hope it will grow and reach more people in Kentucky and beyond to help improve our health, as well as the health of the planet and animals. We also hope to inspire local entrepreneurs to look into offering more plant-based options. I look forward to a day when my husband and I can go out to eat at a 100% plant-based restaurant in Lexington, KY.
The plant-based support groups launched by Dr. Tallio and myself after the PlantPure Nation premier merged into one group and continue to meet. Every month there is a potluck and discussion on practical steps on ideas around the plant-based nutrition. The support group’s focus is on sharing experiences and supporting the members. Community is incredibly important when embracing and sustaining new habits. Our meeting in November was very special because Dr. John McDougall joined the group via a video call. It was exciting to have an opportunity to learn directly from Dr. John McDougall, a pioneer in the field of plant-based nutrition as it relates to health!
Thank you Zoya Tereshkova for these great pictures from LexVegFest.
Information about the LexVegFest: http://lexvegfest.org
Information about the group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/775146129280973/
Information about the November meeting: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/video-call-with-dr-john-mcdougall-tickets-28727070441