Editor's note: Summerfest is an annual event organized by the North American Vegetarian Society. This year it was July 9-13 near Pittsburgh and welcomed around 600 participants.
Once again this year, I had the pleasure of attending Summerfest, driving with fellow TVSer Suzanne Holden. I worked with the Children's Center staff and children. The children enjoyed many crafts, especially painting kitchen magnets, sponge painting a mural, and weaving pot holders. We made vegan snacks, played ball games, renewed friendships, made new friends, and went swimming and hiking.
The food! All of it was vegan and chef Ken Bergeron did an exceptionally good job. I loved everything - let me name just a few of the very creative dishes we had: sweet 'n sour tempeh, Manhattan sea vegetable chowder, orange sesame noodles, spinach-pecan pesto, squash almond bisque, tahini vegetable salad; peach upside down cake, zucchini muffins, apple crunch, and carrot cake.
I was busy with the children, but did get to attend some of the talks. I enjoyed hearing Tom Regan speak on "Animal Rights and Cultural Activism" and about significant people who have contributed their wisdom for the sake of animals, such as the political and spiritual leader Gandhi; writers like C.S. Lewis, Robert Browning, George Bernard Shaw and Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain); contemporary artists like Sue Coe; and activists like Tony Blair (working to stop fox hunting and cosmetic testing in England) and Scott & Helen Dearing (whose life in Maine will be featured at the Culture and Animals Festival in September).
At another talk, Tom led a discussion on rights, exploring the notion of Ahimsa (nonviolence, nonaggression, love). He explained why he thought that the animal rights movement has to be a nonviolent one so sentient beings wouldn't be harmed, the Gandhian inspiration that is "pacifist" and not "passivist". I found interesting his comparisons between animal rights and abolition movements.
George Eisman spoke about teaching vegetarian nutrition and suggested teaching in a three-pronged manner. In talking about Nutrition and Chronic Diseases, he suggested discussing the problem of too much protein and diseases caused by animal products and fats. Next, he suggested presenting Foods and the importance of eating plant-derived foods and the fiber in them (soak rolled oats overnight and pour on cereal for added fiber), and, for children, the importance of breast milk for babies and chopping up fiber foods into small pieces and peeling foods for children. Finally, he suggests presenting Ethics and discussing animals, world hunger, environmentalism, and nonviolent ethics.
I was excited to learn about the thesis work of Antonia Demas, whose room was next to mine. In the plenary session "Food Education in the Elementary Classroom as a Means of Gaining Acceptance of Diverse, Low Fat Foods in the School Lunch Program, Cornell University, Jan 1995", she discussed how she used vegetarian foods to teach children in grades K-4 about other countries, other cultures, math, reading, science, social studies, and art. They learned about raw foods, color, texture, growing food and making up their own recipes to cook and eat themselves. If you're interested in more information about the work with the public schools that she's done, or anything else about Summerfest, please contact me (910-947-1459). Summerfest is a very full and exciting experience - I heartily encourage all of you to try to attend future ones!
Summerfest Dietitian Workshop
During Summerfest on July 11, I attended the second annual workshop for dietitians and other health professionals, offered by the American Dietetic Association's group on vegetarian nutrition. Participants included vegetarians as well as omnivores wishing to educate themselves about the vegetarian lifestyle.
Carol Coughlin, R.D., a vegetarian dietician and frequent contributor to Vegetarian Times, began things by outlining the health benefits of plant-based diets for the elderly. North Carolina's own Suzanne Havala, M.S., R.D., followed with an informative session on vegetarian resources for dietitians and clips of Sue's latest video series on healthful shopping. Brenda Davis, R.D., co-author of Becoming Vegetarian, spoke on the role of fat in the vegetarian and vegan diet. She stressed the need for strict vegetarians to ensure dietary sources of Omega-3 essential fatty acids, suggesting dietary supplementation with ground up flax seeds or flaxseed oil.
Following an amazing vegan buffet lunch, we had a food demonstration by Jennifer Raymond, M.S., a nutritionist from California and author of The Peaceful Palate Cookbook. She currently works with school districts in Hawaii, formulating tasty, plant-based entrees for their school lunch program, and thinks that this may become a model program. Terri Carlo, M.B.A., R.D., led the day's final discussion, focusing on the benefits of vegetarian diets in treating a myriad of health problems.
The workshop presented an excellent opportunity for health professionals to learn more about plant-based diets, network, and share anecdotes and advice. We've had good turnout for two Summerfests now, so the group hopes to continue to offer these workshops in conjunction with the annual NAVS Summerfest.