VegWinterFest program shows aspects of plant-based living

March 8, 2024

The third annual VegWinterFest, held March 3 at the Lewes Public Library, was a resounding success. More than 200 people came streaming through the doors to learn, buy, snack and enjoy the ambiance of plant-based living.

Steuart Martens, who talked about the dangers of hidden ingredients in packaged food, said, “It’s always fun to learn from people and continue our journey together to healthier living.”

VegWinterFest is a mini version of the larger 3-day festival which will return to Rehoboth Beach from Friday to Sunday, Sept. 13 to 15, this year. Six speakers and 17 vendors offered pottery, healthcare products, cutlery, plant food and soil conditioner, fresh vegetables, jewelry, education and information about MERR Institute, and much more at VegWinterFest. Attendees brought food donations for the Teach a Person to Fish Society.

Lines formed before the doors opened, signifying the day would be a success. Sue McCarthy, a Lewes-based certified yoga instructor and owner of Lewes Yoga, specializing in yoga for those over 50, led participants in seated exercises before the morning speakers began. “Yoga is an excellent way to stay active and lower stress levels,” she said.

Krista Griffin represented Blue Zone Delaware and talked passionately about The Power 9 key characteristics of a Blue Zone, where inhabitants are known to live longer, and most importantly, healthier lives. Griffin said, “Sussex County is ready to become a Blue Zone project. VegRehoboth events are a shining example of the vibrant community we have, dedicated to health and living longer better.”

Rich Ferrandino offered easy-to-implement suggestions for incorporating whole food plant-based elements into everyday diets. “A plant-based diet is health” would be Ferrandino’s mantra, and his new company, Revive the Future, offers health and life coaching. “I had great conversations with people about their experiences going plant-based and how it is impacting their health better than medication,” he said.

While vendors were doing a brisk business, Hari Cameron, culinary director at the new Chef’s Table, and co-owner of Grandpa Mac with his brother Orion, spoke about the ease of cooking plant-based meals. He served up tomato pie with parmesan, classic caesar salad, seasonal spring vegetable salad with heirloom grains, and vichyssoise soup with cashew crema for attendees. He said, “There are many reasons to eat more vegetables and a plant-based diet, whether you care deeply for animals, the changing planet, for improved health, or just because you love texture and color. VegRehoboth can help you learn more about this, and VegWinterFest was a great opportunity to do so!”

Steuart Martens, health and wellness coach, shocked the audience with information how many health-damaging ingredients may be hidden in packaged foods. He showed how to scrutinize labels to find those hidden dangers. Martens said, “We each have the ability to evolve and move at our own pace to a healthier lifestyle. Let food be thy medicine!”

Local author and Cape Gazette blogger Dorothy Greet showcased a plethora of fun and colorful cooking utensils and gadgets that spark interest and enthusiasm with young cooks. “Eat the rainbow; it’s full of color and fun! Go veg with kids of all ages,” she said.

A surprise highlight of the day came when local vegan blogger Tony Buffkin of offered a home-cooked vegan meal for six for an impromptu auction fundraiser. Suddenly, auctioneer and ASL interpreter Susan Morissette leapt to her feet and strode to the front of the room to take up the gavel. Hari Cameron generously threw in his assistance, and the bidding began. In Morissette’s capable hands, the auction perked up and eventually brought in more than $500 for VegRehoboth. 

“Our community truly showed up today. From the speakers to the volunteers, the exhibitors, Robb the Uke Guy, and those who made donations, everyone walked away with something. My heart is full!” said VegWinterFest organizer and VegRehoboth co-founder Tara Sheldon.

Upcoming events for VegRehoboth include a special film screening of “Christspiracy,” by the directors of “Cowspiracy,” Friday and Sunday, March 22 and 24, at the Cinema Art Theater near Lewes; Meatless Monday dinner at Confucius restaurant in Rehoboth Beach at 5 p.m., March 25; and a talk and tasting on Indigo: Indian Culture and Cuisine in April.
Visit to stay informed about future events.

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