Vegan Food Fest to provide meatless, dairyless fun

by Stephanie Thomas / Beacon Staff • December 1, 2011

When it comes to eating animal-free food items, one may find it nearly impossible to survive on fruits and veggies alone. On Dec. 7, Heather Hardy, the Team Leader at the Dedham Whole Foods Wellness Club, will speak to students at Earth Emerson’s Vegan Food Fest about the hows and whys of healthy eating on a plant-based diet.

“The very first question you’re asked if you’re following a plant perfect diet is ‘Well, where do you get your protein from?’” Hardy, a 1995 Emerson graduate, said in a phone interview. “You actually don’t need to eat animal products to have protein.” 

When protein is digested, it is turned into amino acids which are used to replace worn down proteins in each type of cell in the body, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Hardy, a vegan, said we have been wrongly led to believe in the necessity of animal protein.

“You have to look at the whole complete picture when it comes to food, and you have to look at it accurately,” she said. 

Protein can be found in beans, nuts, grains, and even some vegetables. Hardy said she hopes to educate students on essential amino acids, the importance of calcium, and complex carbohydrates.

“Trying to live on fruits and vegetables alone is a common mistake among new plant-based dieters,” she said. “You’d need to eat several pounds of just fruits and vegetables every day to sustain yourself.”

Hardy hopes to debunk myths about what she calls “plant perfect diets.” 

“They’re not based on portion control, but what your body thrives on and how to eat those foods in a nutritional way,” she said.

According to Hardy, anyone planning to adopt a plant-based diet should balance greens with complex carbohydrates.

“We’ve become carbo-phobic in our modern eating habits, but it is the refined carbs that do damage,” Hardy said. Wheat, berries, quinoa, and brown rice are all smart choices packed with essential amino acids.

Vegan Food Fest will feature plenty of tasty grub for herbivores from vegan-friendly establishments like Boloco, a vegan pizzeria called Peace o’ Pie, Grasshopper Restaurant, and My Thai Vegan Cafe. These no meat sanctuaries are catering the event along with Cakeology, a cupcake place whose owner, Victoria Donnelly, is creating a vegan cupcake display.

Erin Moriarty, co-president of Earth Emerson, said she follows a vegetarian diet and tries to limit her dairy and egg consumption for ethical and environmental reasons.

“There’s plenty of food without animal products, especially at Emerson. We’re lucky,” said the junior marketing communication major.

Earth Emerson Vegan Food Fest will take place on Dec. 7 from 6-8 p.m. in the Bill Bordy Theater. Attendees are encouraged to bring their own plates and silverware to eliminate waste.