By Eric Sharer
GreenFest was held inside the iconic Navy Pier of Chicago, which is located jetting right outside of the heart of the city, providing an amazing view of the skyline and waterfront. The event itself was held in the large festival hall. This is a large space giving plenty of room for all the vendors, presenters, and visitors comfortably. Per the GreenFest webpage, the total weekend welcomed over 24,000 participants. This was very large venue, so it never seemed excessively busy or overwhelming and I would encourage anyone interested to visit the event in 2013! The crowd was quite a melting pot of all ages, demographics, beliefs, and cultures. It was a very fascinating mix of people. I would say the two most common age groups were people in their 20’s – 30’s and people in their late 40’s early 50’s.
A large majority of the crowd was familiar with the overall concept of vegetarianism/veganism, but many had questions about the reasons why one would pursue this or how to do so. Major topics of interest include the environmental impact of the livestock industry, vegan children, eating healthy on a budget, and gluten free nutrition. Many people were shocked to learn of the impact that eating animal protein, poultry, or dairy has on the environment and the earth’s supply of fresh water. People were surprised to learn that the largest user of fresh water is the livestock industry, since water is directly needed for drinking and cleaning of animals.
There were many conversations about all sorts of topics related to vegetarianism/ veganism. I had great talks with a few nurses, counselors, and teachers who wanted to spread the word on the benefits of vegetarianism/veganism to their students/clients/patients. Several school teachers who came to the booth were excited to share the Vegetarian Journal and coloring books with their students.
The Vegan Nutrition For Pregnancy and Childhood brochure was very popular for the many mothers or expecting mothers that I met who were interested in raising their children vegan, but were just looking for more information on how to do so correctly. Vegan Diets in a Nutshell really helped many people who were nervous making the transition to a vegan diet, much more achievable, since it clearly outlines all the important foods to eat while being vegan.
Outside of my participation during the event, volunteering for The VRG’s booth I was part of the opening ceremony, with The Earth Balance Plant Based Panel. This was a
panel of both local and national experts, specializing in various arenas such as nutrition, GMO, raw foods, media, etc. This was a very exciting panel which drummed up a very interesting and informative discussion related to vegetarianism. It was a special moment being able to represent myself as well as VRG at GreenFest Chicago! Video of this panel as well as the panel from other cities is available at the earthbalance website.
The VRG would like to extend our gratitude towards Eric Sharer, Chicago Volunteer Coordinator and his crew of volunteers who made our participation possible at GreenFest in Chicago on May 5th and 6th of 2012.
If you are interested in volunteering at a booth like this, please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
For a list of other ways to volunteer and get involved with the VRG, please visit http://www.vrg.org/getinvolved.php.
Donations from individuals like you help VRG continue to sponsor outreach booths like
the one mentioned above. To donate, please go to http://www.vrg.org/donate.
For more information about GreenFest, visit: www.greenfestivals.org/