Sunday, August 8, 2010
veggie fest v.s the wisconsin state fair
Yesterday my fiance, 2 friends, and I made the journey to Napperville IL for their vegitarian festival. I didnt even know something like this existed! It reminded me of being at my favorite vegan resteraunt where I can partake in anything and everything and not feel weird for the day! :P
It took us about 2 hours to get there including our stop at starbucks for a soy chai latte (my newest addiction). Once we got inside there were a tonnn of information tents. All 3 of my guests are not vegitarian so I felt for their bordom instantly. But once I grabbed some info and we made our way toward the back of the festival they had FOOD and that was something we could all agree upon! I wanted to try everythinggg!
My friend and I stopped at the Veggie Grill to enjoy a little peice of summer- something I havent had ALL summer yet- a buger! Welll a veggie burger! :)
There were a lot of people there but besides a line in the beginning to get a reusable tote the lines moved pretty quickly and you could easily access the booths. There were great deals on books, lots of free information and magazines, and of coarse the yummy food.
My fiance tried the falafal pita which he really liked and another thing that was fried plaintains with soy meat crumbles all on a bananna leaf! THAT was really good! He also tried a tamale which was okay. We also got a coconut to try... I have never tried coconut juice but to me it tastes like the butter flavor popcorn jelly belly! I couldnt get past it! Its interesting b/c the WIld Tree food product line that I sell has a butter flavored grapeseed oil that is diary free- its flavored that way with coconut oil! When I put that all together I didnt feel so crazy! Also after I mentioned to everyone that I thought it tasted like the butter flavor popcorn jelly belly they all agreed that it did! Once we finished the juice they cut the top off for us so we could eat the inside. I was suprised how much more flavor coconut has when its toasted. Raw it just doesnt taste like much to me.
Next up the smoothie booth! They had 4 different flavors and 1 vegan flavor. My friend got the very berry (non vegan) and I got the tropical fruit (vegan). They were perfect for this HOTTT day!
After the smoothies we headed back to Milwaukee and the suggestion of going to the WIsconsin State Fair that night came up. We all kind of laughed about it bc we knew that it was going to be the polar opposite of what we had just experienced at Veggie Fest. I did want to see some animals though so we decided we would go later once it cooled off a bit.
Of coarse is regular state fair fashion (or any non-veg festival for the most part) pretty much the only thing I can eat thats vegan is french fries. I DID however find sweet potato fries (on a stick- of coarse) that were dusted with cinammon and sugar. They were pretty yummy. The line for - and this is not a joke- the krispy kreme burger with chocolate covered bacon was so long it would take hours in line to get your hands on one. (it is just as it sounds; a burger utalizing kripsy kreme donuts as buns instead of the standard flour bun and topped with chocolate covered bacon v.s. the traditional regular bacon) There was the long standing corn on the cob booth- which could be healthy if they didnt dip the corn in a huge container of butter... I couldnt help but think how hard would it be to also have a non-dairy butter (say Earth Balance) available too? not just for vegans but people who want to eat a healthier fat (healthy oils instead of lard) or for people that are lactose intolerant? They could even charge more for it if necessary. But I think we are a long way away from that. Maybe somedayyyy...
After we all found some food we headed to the animal barns. Its so weird b/c I never cared to see the animals before. I was like cows? big deal. Pigs? why do I want to see those? BUT NOW, that I have stopped eating them its like I want to see them. I want to face them and look them in the eye and be able to say "I dont eat you anymore!" Its SO WEIRD, but I have heard of other vegans and vegitarians having this same experience. We went the the cow barn first and I pet my first cow. He was so calm. I wasnt sure if I was allowed to pet him. I didnt know how he would react. But he just kind of looked up sweetly and continued eating his hay. He was so sweet!
As I moved down the line of cows there was one that seemed to be extremely dressed. She was laying down and chomping up and down like she was eating but there was nothing in her mouth. He eyes looked glazed over. I approached her and wanted to sit next to her to comfort her but I was worried I might irritate her more. Above me I heard a guys voice "can I answer any questions for you?". I looked up. He was about my age- maybe younger. I asked him if he worked on the farm and he said he did. I asked him if it was his familys farm and he said his whole family worked on it. He seemed like a really nice guy and so I thought why not keep asking questions! I didnt ask them in a pushy way or mention once that I didnt eat meat. I just asked any other normal person might ask.
I said "she is breathing really heavy. Is she going to be alright?
"Yeah she is just over heated. It gets really hot in here thats why we have the big fans"
Then he pointed to one above my head although she seemed to be under it enough that she wasnt getting hit by the breeze.
"Are all these milking cows? or beef cows?"
He told me that she was the only milking cow.
I have read that milking cows have a worse life in many ways then beef cows. They spend there whole miserable lives producing 10X more milk then they naturally would and they are always made to be pregnant so that they keep lactating. I thought in my head no wonder she looks so much worse then the others.
"How long does a milking cow live?"
He told me that depends on so many factors. That he has heard of milking cows living 17 years but it could be more like 2 years sometimes. This cow was 2 years old.
"Sometimes their udders just blow out, then we have to shoot them or send them off. Sometimes they just drop or get infections." Again reiterating "it depends on so many factors".
This guy was really nice. I didnt feel anything bad towards him at all. This is his living- the way his family makes money- and I get that. I really do. In no way did I get the vibe from him that he was a bad person.
"Do you ever get attached?...like dont want to send them off?"
He looked confused. "attached?".. his confusion grew. "You mean to the cows?"
It was as if the thought had never even crossed his mind. Understandable I suppose considering his line of work. "Its sad sometimes. I've brought cows to show (at the fair) and had to shoot them (the next day). Its unfortunate but for me its a form of income".
I get that. I really do. I really liked this guy! He was answering my serious questions I had. He wasnt getting defensive or making me feel stupid. and I was doing the same for him. We were having a two way, honest, non judgemental conversation.
"Do the cows get to graze or are they pretty much kept in barns or..?"
I asked this because I have been up north enough to see cows out grazing in fields! I want to beleive that maybe when books, videos, etc talk about cows being shackled up that is not the norm! It couldnt possibly be the norm on a wisconsin family farm could it?
"No, we dont let them out at all. They are pretty much on concrete their whole lives. Inside"
Our conversation wrapped up and I thanked him for answering my questions. I genuinely meant it. I wanted to ask him if I could come to the farm but I dont think I would be allowed to. Who knows..
Next we moved on to the pig barns when I saw baby pigs in a incubator with their mother. They were all toppled on top of eachother. They looked like little pink puppies.
When I was at veggie fest they had a brochure at one of the info tables that said "why eat one but not another?" with a picture of a dog and a pig on it. I couldnt help feeling this way at the State Fair later that day.
I feel like I learned so much yesterday. At BOTH fairs which I wasnt expecting. Im def. going to attend veggie fest next year and Im looking into possibly even having a booth there. I feel like there are a few things I could add to their line up. We will see! :)