If your meal plan starts with the three letters “v-e-g,” you probably already have a red circle around Sept. 22, the date of D.C. VegFest.
You know its organizers (Compassion Over Killing and Vegetarian Society of D.C.), hours (11 a.m. to 6 p.m.) and location (Yards Park). You won’t make the mistake of going back to the George Washington University venue —that was so third annual. In fact, you probably already have your bike tires pumped and your alarm clock set so that you can be among the first 1,000 attendees to score a goodie bag packed with products and coupons. You are probably still snacking on the swag you snagged last year.
Simply put, you don’t need our assistance as much as, well, some others who will remain nameless except that they share the suffix of “vore.” So go fix yourselves a Daiya grilled cheese. We won’t take long. Come back in five.
Okay, it’s just us. We can speak freely. We know that on Saturday you have a table at Ruth’s Chris Steak House and a shopping excursion to Nordstrom to replace the leather belt that your dog chewed like a rawhide toy last weekend. But consider for a moment jettisoning your plans to drop by VegFest.
Say what? You want a good reason? Well, how about free samples — and it’s legit grazing, not sneaking a maltball from the bulk food bin. Many of the vendors will set out trays of treats, including Daiya cheese, Dandies marshmallows, Field Roast’s frankfurters, Gardein substitute meats and oodles more.
There’s also booze, served in a beer-and-wine garden run by D.C. Bread & Brew, purveyors of last year’s monster plate of vegan nachos served in a Frisbee (eat first, then toss). If you haven’t heard, beer is the king chaser of soy cheese. The planners have also expanded the kids’ play area and will add more R&R dog stations. Just don’t confuse the zones: Your bichon frise might not enjoy having her face painted, though your kid might like the taste of doggie treats. Probably tastier than the purple crayon from this morning.
The arrangement of the festival is the same: tables dedicated to cruelty-free edibles, products and animal-rights literature; speakers such as uber-athlete Rich Roll; and demos by chefs such as Terry Hope Romero, a prolific cookbook author. But the event has grown and fattened up. Erica Meier, executive director of COK, predicts a crowd of 7,000 to 8,000, at least a grand more than last year.
In addition, more than 100 vendors will display their wares, up from 75. The sweet-and-savory superstars will be in attendance, such as Pennsylvania’s Vegan Treats and Columbia Heights’ Sticky Fingers, which will host a no-hands cupcake-eating contest. But some new kids on the tofu block will also show up at the party, such as Pete’s Apizza, which serves New Haven-style slices with Berkeley sensibilities.
And now for the secret weapon: Release the puppies! The Washington Humane Society will ping hearts with its Adopt Force I adopt-mobile. Imagine the love story: You and puppy, VegFest 2012.
So go ahead and cancel the steakhouse reservation. And here’s some twine to hold up your pants.
Andrea Sachs, a Post Travel writer, has been vegetarian for more than 25 years (it all started with a vein-y steak at the family dinner table) and 96 percent vegan for about five years. Once she discovers a tasty soy frozen yogurt, she will be 100 percent.