Oakland Veg week offers advice on eating meat-free

on April 18, 2013

Vegetarian and vegan meals can be just as tasty as meals that contain meat and dairy—that’s what the organizers of the second annual Oakland Veg week, a celebration of vegetarian eating, want to prove. The event runs from April 22 to 28, and visitors will get to experience cooking demonstrations and film screenings about vegetarian and vegan cooking and eating.

The 20 volunteers behind Oakland Veg Week don’t want to preach to people using the usual reasons advocates give for how cutting down meat consumption will make the world better—reasons like the environment, animal welfare and personal health. “Instead, we want to give the visitors a fun and inviting experience by showing them how it’s delicious, simple and that it doesn’t have to be expensive to experiment with vegetarian and vegan food,’’ said Kristie Middleton, the coordinator of the volunteer-run event.  We welcome all vegetarians and vegans from the community to join us next week and we hope to give them some support and inspiration, but we especially hope to attract people who are not used to eating vegetarian or vegan food to the event.”

To spread this message, Oakland Veg Week is relying on popular food trends, like the pop-up kitchen event scheduled for Friday, April 26. Kitchener Oakland, a commercial kitchen, will host vegetarian and vegan food demonstrations from 6 to 9 pm. Admission and wine-tasting will be free, and food items will cost around $5 each. “The samples of vegetarian and vegan food, with products coming from local artisans, will give people wide options and ideas to cook with. And of course we want to encourage them that it’s easy to replace meat with something just as delicious and healthy, like veggie burgers,” said Middleton.

The Oakland Museum of California hosts a weekly gathering of food trucks called Off the Grid, and most of them will have a vegetarian theme on Friday night, as well. There will be live music and a beer and wine garden around the koi pond at the Blue Oak Café from 5 to 9 pm. Middleton said not all the trucks will participate in Veg Week, so meat will still be available, but others will offer special dishes so they can highlight the vegetarian items on their menus.

During the week, the organization will host talks where people can ask questions about food-related concerns, like the nutrition or costs of vegetarian food. Most of those will be held at Whole Foods Oakland.  There will be a film screening of the documentary Forks over Knives on Thursday, April 25, as well at Whole Foods.

The organizers are also asking people to sign up for a “Veg Pledge’’–a personal commitment to reduce meat consumption during Veg Week. Joiners can either commit to cutting out all animal products for the week, cutting out just meat for the week, or doing so every Monday for the entire year as part of the “Meatless Monday” effort. People who join the pledge will get daily recipes and tips about cooking vegetarian or vegan meals. The goal is to get 1,000 people to sign up, and they have gathered about 600 participants so far, Middleton said.

“Oakland is the perfect place to host a vegetarian week because it’s such a great place to eat. There are a lot of new restaurants popping up using local organic products. Oakland is on it’s way to become a recognized vegetarian and vegan city in the United States,’’ said Middleton.

For all upcoming events for Oakland Veg Week and their locations, visit the organization’s website.

Photo: oaklandveg.com

1 Comment

  1. Dante Frizzoli on April 22, 2013 at 11:05 pm

    I think that this article could really benefit from listing a few vegetarian restaurants as well. I know that I ate the paleo diet for some time and it did wonders for me. But I had a hard time adopting the habits because I didn’t have any local restaurants that accommodated the lifestyle.



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