by Ian McNulty
The expanding variety of food in New Orleans these days isn’t just about different ethnic cuisines and unconventional dining venues. The choices for vegetarians or vegans are also more prolific than ever, a major change for a city where seafood was once widely, and earnestly, proffered as the “meatless” selection at restaurants.
The change is happening in different corners of New Orleans food culture, and next week, on May 11 and 12, the collective momentum will be on display at NOLA Veggie Fest.
Now in its fifth year, Veggie Fest will be held once again at the Healing Center, the multi-purpose complex in the Faubourg Marigny that’s also home to the New Orleans Food Co-Op, which is a lead sponsor for Veggie Fest.
Planned by the Humane Society of Louisiana, the event is a showcase for the vegan lifestyle, which goes well beyond what people decide to eat. But like any good New Orleans festival, Veggie Fest puts food front and center.
There will be cooking demonstrations throughout the fest, and a bazaar of booths featuring local resources and national suppliers ranging from raw food producers to fair trade coffee importers. Attendees can nosh through samples of everything from vegan ice cream and dairy-free dips to mock meats, while local food vendors will be selling vegan dishes as well. A slate of national speakers will give presentations on topics like nutrition, fitness and preventative medicine.
On Saturday, May 11, the festival shifts gears in the evening for an after-party at Café Istanbul, a venue inside the Healing Center, with music, burlesque and belly dance performances and drink specials. The after-party is from 7 p.m. to 1 a.m.