17 Black Vegan Trailblazers

by admin on February 5, 2015

Hey, Family!

I can’t believe it’s February already! And since it’s also Black History Month, this gives me another wonderful opportunity to talk about some of our legendary pioneers in the vegan movement, past and present.

As with any list such as this, it does not begin to include everyone who deserves to be mentioned. There are many more black vegan pioneers, known and currently unknown, whose stories can fill an entire volume (and that book will be written!). In the meantime, please feel free to let me know of more names of vegan pioneers that I can add next time around. Enjoy!

17 Black Vegan Trailblazers in the Healthy Plant-based Foods Movement:

Alvenia Fulton

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A naturopathic physician, Dr. Alvenia Fulton opened Pioneer Natural Health Food Store in the 1950s as the first health food establishment on the south side of Chicago. She later mentored Dick Gregory in his transition to vegetarianism and she led fasts for peace in Atlanta with Ralph Abernathy and other Civil Rights luminaries. Learn more.

Nation of Islam

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In the 1960s, the Nation of Islam promoted healthy plant-based foods (not exclusively vegan) to its legions of followers with the classic book, How to Eat to Live, written by Elijah Muhammad. Learn more.

Dick Gregory

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Legendary human rights activist and comedian Dick Gregory became a vegetarian in the 1960s, as a result of the philosophy of nonviolence he practiced as an activist in the Civil Rights Movement. Gregory later influenced Dexter King and Coretta Scott King to also become vegans. In 1974, Gregory with Alvenia Fulton went on to write the iconic book, Dick Gregory’s Natural Diet for Folks Who Eat: Cookin’ with Mother Nature, which influenced generations to become vegetarian. Learn more.

Ausar Auset Society

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A Pan-African religious organization founded in 1973 by Ra Un Nefer Amen, the Ausar Auset society practices and teaches veganism as one of its primary tenets, and has established vegan restaurants across the country. Learn more.

African Hebrew Israelites

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Founded 50 years ago by Ben Ammi Ben Israel, the African Hebrew Israelites of Jerusalem started Soul Vegetarian restaurants in the 1980s, which became the largest vegan restaurant chain in the world, currently with a total of 14 locations in the US, Israel, Ghana, and the Caribbean. Learn more.

Queen Afua

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An icon in the vegan movement for more than 40 years, Queen Afua has trained thousands of people worldwide to teach and practice optimal health using plant-based nutrition. Her groundbreaking, best-selling books include Heal Thyself and Sacred Woman. Learn more.

Aris La Tham

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The father of gourmet raw vegan cuisine, Aris La Tham, originally from Panama, began popularizing the cuisine as a master chef 30 years ago. A world-renowned restaurateur, celebrity caterer, and teacher, he has mentored many of today’s best known raw food leaders. Learn more.

Karen Calabrese

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A guru in the raw vegan movement, Karen Calabrese owns the longest running raw food vegan restaurant in the country, Karyn’s Raw in Chicago, and has since created a vegan mini-empire in the windy city. Learn more.

Makini Howell and Ayinde Howell

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Makini Howell and Ayinde Howell (sister and brother) are lifelong vegans, chefs, authors of Plum and The Lusty Vegan, respectively, and fourth-generation culinary entrepreneurs. Their parents started the first vegan meal delivery service in Seattle, Washington, in the 1970s, influenced in part by their involvement in the Civil Rights Movement and their later practice of Rastafarianism. To learn more, check out Makini’s legendary restaurant Plum Bistro and Ayinde’s fabulous new cooking show Like A Vegan.

Chocolate City

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The first all-vegan cafes and stores in the nation’s capital were started by African Americans in the mid-1980s near Howard University. Many in this large community were influenced by Dick Gregory and Elijah Muhammad, as well as the Black Panther Party, which promoted healthier eating as a form of liberation, particularly with the establishment of their pioneering free school breakfast programs for children.

Imar Hutchins

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Straight out of Morehouse College and influenced by Aris La Tham, Imar Hutchins started the first raw vegan restaurants in the nation’s capital in 1992, called Delights of the Garden, with locations near Howard University and in Georgetown, and additional locations in Atlanta and Cleveland. Hutchins also authored three pioneering vegan cookbooks beginning in 1996: Delights of the Garden, 30 Days @ Delights of the Garden, and The Vegetarian Soul Food Cookbook. Learn more.

Traci Thomas

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Traci Thomas founded the first and largest African American vegetarian society in the nation more than two decades ago in Atlanta, and has mentored many others in starting similar organizations across the country. Learn more.

A. Breeze Harper

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As the editor of the groundbreaking anthology, Sistah Vegan, the first book to explore how race and gender shape the myriad experiences of black women vegans in the United States, Breeze Harper is a leading critical theorist whose work also focuses on the intersections of food and social justice, sexuality, environmentalism, classism, and animal rights. Learn more.

Latham Thomas

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As a pioneer in the holistic maternity wellness movement, and the author of Mama Glow, Latham Thomas integrates plant-based nutrition, spiritual development, and yogic practice to help women cultivate optimal health during pregnancy and beyond. Learn more.

Marya McQuirter and Tracye McQuirter

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I’m honored to say that my sister, historian Marya McQuirter, and I started one of the first ever vegan websites 17 years ago–and it was also the first vegan website by and for African Americans. I was inspired by Dick Gregory to become vegetarian, then vegan, nearly 30 years ago, and have been teaching people how to go vegan for more than 25 years. Learn more.

Today, there are an estimated three million African American vegan and vegetarians–about 6 percent of the black population in the US, according to a 2012 Vegetarian Resource Group study conducted by Harris Interactive. And of course, that number is growing every day.

In fact, I predict that the NAACP Image Awards will start giving Lifetime Achievement Awards to black vegan activists within the next 15 years. Mark my words! icon wink 17 Black Vegan Trailblazers

Have a wonderful weekend, family!

Much love,



Eating for Activism

by admin on December 17, 2014

Hey, Family!

I’ve been following and participating in some of the recent protests around the non-indictments of white police officers for murdering black children and adults.

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Sadly, these non-indictments come as no surprise. State-sanctioned violence against black people is an inherent part of institutionalized white supremacy in this country that dates back to enslavement.

And as you may have heard, according to a 2012 report by Operation Ghetto Storm, a black person is killed by police, security officers, or vigilantes every 28 hours.

So, people across the country and around the world continue to act, to move, to fight to bring an end to these 21st century lynchings.

And while we’re doing that, we need to be extra sure we’re eating well. Over the years, I’ve known too many activists who think that the urgency of protesting is too important to stop and think about food. But nothing could be further from the truth.

The fact is, if you’re an activist, you’re likely to be in a heightened state of moving, thinking, organizing, resisting, multi-tasking, and stress. Your immune system is taking a hit and you need to make sure it’s being strengthened, not weakened. So this is precisely the time to increase the amount of healthful foods you’re eating right now.

Indeed, sustained activism requires that we not only take the time to eat well, but to exercise and meditate, too, so that we can be the most helpful to ourselves and others. Even during the Civil Rights Movement, naturopath Alvenia Fulton and others led participants in fasts and healthful eating.

And it’s important to note that just as there were 313 extrajudicial killings of black people in 2012, there were more than 300,000 preventable deaths of black people in 2010 caused by diet-related chronic diseases, including heart disease, stroke, and hypertensive disease.

This is not a comparison game. Rather, it’s a reminder that unhealthful diets are a social justice and human rights issue, too, since there are state-sanctioned reasons that low-income African Americans, in particular, do not have access to healthful foods.

That said, we do not want to be active participants in our own genocide. So with the activist work you may be doing now and in the future, remember to eat more healthful plant-based foods. Here are some examples.

Start your day with a green smoothie or a green juice, along with a bowl of oatmeal mixed with chopped walnuts and apples, and sprinkled with cinnamon. Or you can even make a quick colorful salad for breakfast.

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For a snack, bring along 2-3 pieces of fruit: an orange, banana, a pear, an apple, or a baggy filled with 1/2 cup fresh berries. And bring a baggy of 1/2 cup unsalted, unroasted nuts, as well, such as almonds, pumpkin seeds, cashews, or pecans.

For lunch, bring a veggie burger sandwich (one of my faves is Sunshine brand Black Bean Southwest Burger), or bring a wrap made from a whole grain tortilla filled with spicy red beans and rice, avocado, tomatoes, onions, finely chopped spinach, and salsa or chipotle sauce.

And be sure to sip plenty of water throughout the day. Some of us tend to skip the water because we don’t want to have to stop and use the bathroom during a protest, but dehydrating yourself is not the answer.

And finally, when you get home, fix an easy veggie stir-fry using frozen broccoli, tossed with chick peas, cashews, chopped tempeh, or tofu. Then get plenty of rest so you can start out fresh the next day.

We need you to stay healthy out there!

* * * * *

Before I end, I want to give a special thanks to the Vegetarian Society of DC for their lovely Life-Affirming Thanksgiving Day Celebration. I had a wonderful time speaking at the event.

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This Stuffed Acorn Squash with Quinoa was my favorite dish:

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You can check out more pics here.

If you’d like to leave a comment about today’s post, please click here to comment on the web site, so everyone can share.

Have a wonderful week, family!

Much love,



Watch me talk vegan with Roland Martin

by admin on November 19, 2014

Earlier this year, I had the pleasure of talking about veganism on Roland Martin’s News One Now show on TV One and I was recently reminded that I never shared the video with you (tsk, tsk)! The interview starts at the 36.27 mark.

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The show is broadcast into an impressive 58 million homes each day, and most (though obviously not all) of these are homes are African American, it’s safe to say. So I’m especially grateful to Roland for giving me the opportunity to help get the message out about how vital it is that black folks eat more plant-based foods.

Roland is an avowed meat-eater and we had some fun with that, but we also talked about the very tragic statistic that black men are twice as likely to develop and die from heart disease at younger ages than all other groups in the US. Black women are next in line with that grim statistic.

And decades of studies have shown that those who eat the most meat are more likely to die sooner of heart disease than those who eat the least meat.

We’re talking about black people dying from heart disease as young as their 30s and 40s. And blacks who have heart disease generally also have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, and obesity.

These are folks dying from preventable deaths who are in the prime of their lives and could be contributing to their families, communities, and the nation in so many ways—so this has a devastating impact that goes beyond one individual.

Now we also experience dire health consequences from the chronic stress of living in a society of institutionalized racism. But, if anything, that’s all the more reason to take back control of our health and destinies with the help of a plant-based diet.

You can check out the full interview here, starting at the 36:27 mark.

Have a wonderful week, family!

Much love,


Join us for a Vegan Thanksgiving Celebration

by admin on October 28, 2014

Hey, Family!

It’s going to be 80 degrees in DC today, so it seems a little strange to be writing about Thanksgiving right around the corner, but here we go…!

Each year the Vegetarian Society of DC, the nation’s oldest ongoing vegetarian society, hosts an All-Vegan Life-Affirming Thanksgiving Celebration on Thanksgiving Day, with about 350 people in attendance.

This year, I’m happy to be the guest speaker for the event, and I’m extending a personal invitation for you to join us!

There will be an all-vegan buffet-style feast, live musical entertainment, door prizes, and a great gathering of people who are vegan, omnivore, and everything in between. So if you’re looking for a delicious, compassionate, and festive way to enjoy Thanksgiving, this is it.

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The Life-Affirming Thanksgiving Celebration will take place on Thanksgiving Day, November 27th, 12-4 pm, at the Hyatt Regency Bethesda. You can learn more and get tickets here.

The menu includes:

Quinoa Stuffed Acorn Squash
Seitan Stuffed with Shitake and Leeks
Wild Mushroom Ravioli with Tomato-Fennel Broth
Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Toasted Hazelnuts
Roasted Golden Beets with Warm Maple Mustard Dressing
Spicy Collard Greens
Pumpkin Pie or Cinnamon Apple Crisp

There’s an early-bird price going on now, but it ends this Saturday, November 1st. This event sells out every year, so if you want to go (or want to tell your DC peeps about it), don’t wait.

And if you’re wondering if you can join us and go to your relative’s Thanksgiving afterwards–absolutely! Many of us do it every year.

I hope to see you there! Have a wonderful week, family.

Much love,


Hey, Family!

Breast Cancer Awareness Month is in full swing and I want to highlight two videos about three simple foods that can help prevent breast cancer in the first place–both are from my favorite nutrition website, NutritionFacts.org.

The first video, “Preventing Breast Cancer By Any Greens Necessary,” which I’ve talked about before, is about a study of more than 50,000 African American women and the effect of fruit and vegetable consumption on breast cancer risk.

In the study, collard greens and carrots were found to be the most protective veggies against breast cancer. This research is so important because black women are more likely to be diagnosed with a harder-to-treat form of breast cancer that can result in earlier death. Eating your veggies can help you prevent that from ever happening.

The second video, “Can Flax Seeds Help Prevent Breast Cancer?,” is about the effect of flax seed consumption on breast cancer risk in women in general.

The study found that eating just a teaspoon a day of flax seeds can help prevent the risk of ever getting breast cancer. Flax seeds are the most concentrated source of plant lignans, which directly protect against the growth and spread of breast cancer cells.

So, be sure to add some flax seeds in your morning smoothie or sprinkle some on your daily salad.

And here are two dishes for spicy collard greens and my friend Saundra Woods’s carrot salad to help you eat more of these cancer-fighting foods (both recipes are from my book). Enjoy!

Spicy Collard Greens

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

4~5 cloves garlic, peeled and minced

1 bunch collard greens, bottom stems removed

¼ cup halved sun-dried tomatoes (7~10 tomatoes)

2 tablespoons nutritional yeast

1 tablespoon Bragg Liquid Aminos

Dash cayenne pepper

Heat the olive oil in a skillet. Add the garlic and sauté until translucent. Cut the collards lengthwise into thin strips. Add the collards to the skillet, stirring to make sure all the strips are coated. Cover and let the collards break down, 5 to 10 minutes. Add the tomatoes and seasonings, stir, and cook for another 5 minutes. Makes 4 to 5 servings.

Carrot Salad 

2 cups grated carrots

3 tablespoons chopped walnuts

3 tablespoons raisins

2 celery stalks (including leaves), chopped fine

1 apple, cored and sliced

1/4 cup diced fresh pineapple

3 tablespoons Grapeseed Oil Vegenaise (egg- and dairy-free mayonnaise)

Place all ingredients in a bowl and gently stir until well blended. Makes 3 to 4 servings.

Talk to you next week!

Much love,



Join ‘The Lusty Vegans’ this Wed 10/22

by admin on October 21, 2014

Hey, Family!

If you’re in DC this Wednesday, Oct 22nd, I hope you’ll join my friend and vegan chef Ayinde Howell and co-author Zoe Eisenberg for a fabulous 4-course vegan dinner, talk, and book signing celebrating the release of their new book, The Lusty Vegan: A Cookbook and Relationship Manifesto for Vegans and the People Who Love Them.

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The event will be at Eatonville Restaurant in Washington, DC, on Wednesday, Oct 22nd, as part of their fabulous Food and Folklore Series hosted by Michon Boston. You can get all the details and tickets here.

The Lusty Vegan is the first vegan guide to tackle the very real romantic issues that arise when vegans and omnivores fall in love. I caught up with Ayinde while he was on a plane somewhere over Texas and asked him a few questions about the new book:

**Why did you write The Lusty Vegans?

AH: There are a lot of us Lusty Vegans–vegans who are worldly and want to be more than a label. We are the folks who are compassionate and want to talk about more than being vegan, and thus hang out with more than just vegans. A likely by-product is that we may fall in love with non-vegans and that road needs a map. This book is for those couples.

**What’s one of the biggest challenges for vegans dating omnivores?

AH: Not respecting each others choices, whichever the choice may be. If you don’t, that will begin to fester and drive a wedge in the relationship.
**What’s your best advice to handle it?
AH: Understand what you are getting into and be patient. Be happy in your choices in food and in love–and that will guide how you handle any situation.
**On the flip side, what’s one of the biggest challenges for omnivores who date vegans?
AH: Understanding the world of veganism and what it means, all the way down to the shoes. Literally…you can’t wear leather shoes. Womp.
**Womp, indeed! What’s your best advice to handle that?
AH: With a sense of humor. And honesty. Can you handle it?
**And last but not least, what are your 3 favorite dishes in the book?
AH: Devil’s Pot Pie, Hearts of Baltimore Crab Cakes, and Strawberry Shortcake With Biscuits.
Sounds de-lish! So, DC fam, I hope to see you this Wednesday. (And if you’re not in DC, check out the book; it’s available everywhere.)
Have a great week!

Much love,



Doing this will make cooking a lot easier

by admin on October 9, 2014

Hey, Family!

Before we dive into today’s topic, I want to thank Berryripe.com for naming By Any Greens Necessary as one of the Top Vegan Blogs of 2014!

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Now onto how you can make cooking a lot easier.

There’s a French term called mise en place (sounds like “Me zah plahs”) that means “putting into place” and it simply refers to getting all of your ingredients ready and in place before you start cooking.

And that means pulling everything you’ll need out of the fridge and cabinets, then washing, chopping, measuring, and organizing all of your ingredients on the counter first. Then you start cooking.

Here’s an example of mise en place for my Broccoli Ginger Stir-fry that I make at least once a week:

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Everything’s all laid out and ready to go. And that’s especially important when making stir-fry because it cooks so quickly. Here’s how this delish dish looks when it’s done:

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Now what most of us do instead of mise en place is just start cooking, then go back and forth to the fridge, the cabinets, the sink, and the cutting board, looking for ingredients, and washing, and chopping as we go. We may think that’s faster, but in reality, it wastes time and adds unnecessary stress to the cooking process.

So I encourage you to start practicing mise en place instead. It may seem strange and counterintuitive at first, but the more you do it, the more second nature it will become. And the more smooth and zen-like your cooking experience will be.

And by the way, here’s the recipe for my Broccoli Ginger Stir-fry. icon smile Doing this will make cooking a lot easier

Have a great week, family!

Much love,



by admin on October 1, 2014

Hey, Family!

Last week, 168 of you entered for a chance to win a FREE 3-day juice cleanse, courtesy of our friends at South Block Juice Company.

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Amir, South Block’s owner, selected one winner at random from all the emails you sent in. And the winner is…

Kristine Louis of Washington, DC. Congratulations!!! 

South Block is also offering 10% off their juice cleanse to all of my readers for a year. Just give them promo code “By Any Greens Necessary” when you place your order online or in person. (Currently, the cleanse is only available for in-store pick up at their locations in DC and VA.)

Thanks again to South Block Juice Company for being so generous and juicy!

And speaking of juicy, today is World Vegetarian Day! The first day of October officially marks the kickoff of Vegetarian Awareness Month, started by the North American Vegetarian Society back in 1977. Omnivores who pledge to go veg can win cash prizes and everyone can download free veg resources.

Today also happens to be the day after my birthday. Yep, I turned 48 yesterday, and I’m feeling awesome and grateful! 30 years of vegan will do that for ya! icon wink

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Have a great week, family!

Much love,



Win a Free 3-day Juice Fast by Sept 29

by admin on September 23, 2014

Hey, Family!

Autumn has officially arrived, and it’s the perfect time to mirror the changing of the seasons around us with an internal cleanse.

I actually got a head start and did a 3-day juice cleanse last week, which was provided gratis by South Block Juice Company, based in DC and Arlington, VA. (I’ll tell you why I liked it in a moment.)

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But first, in the spirit of the season, South Block has graciously offered to give my lovely readers (that’s you) a chance to win this 3-day juice cleanse for FREE!

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It’s a total of 18 bottles of 1-pint juices in 6 cleansing combinations. The “blockstar” sunglasses and thermal carrying case come with it, along with detox teas.

To enter, all you have to do is email freecleanse@southblockjuice.com with “By Any Greens Necessary” in the subject line by Monday, September 29, 2014, and they’ll randomly pick a winner, whom I’ll announce right here next week. You can learn all about the juice cleanse here.

And for those of you who don’t win, not to worry. South Block is also offering 10% off their juice cleanse to all of my readers for the next 12 months. Just give them promo code “By Any Greens Necessary” when you place your order. Currently, the cleanse is only available at their brick and mortar locations in DC and VA. So for non-locals, if you’re traveling to the area within the next 12 months, be sure to order some juice online and pick it up when you get to town.

Now, onto the reasons I liked this cleanse:

1) I didn’t have to make the juices myself!!!

2) The juices are cold-pressed (not pasteurized), so they taste very fresh and delicious.

3) The cleanse worked. I was eliminating the entire 3 days. icon smile Win a Free 3 day Juice Fast by Sept 29

4) The Caveman Mylk was my favorite…cashew milk with spices–divine! I’ll definitely be making this a regular.

What I would do differently:

1) Customize my cleanse to get more green juices. I got the standard 3-day juice cleanse, and the carrot and beet juices were a bit sweet for me. (I diluted them with water and the other green juices.)

2) Do a longer cleanse. I felt calm and energized by the third day and could have easily kept going. I kinda knew I would feel that way. icon smile Win a Free 3 day Juice Fast by Sept 29

So there you have it, fam. Now go get your cleanse on! Remember, you must enter by Sept 29th for a chance to win the free cleanse. And you get the 10% discount for an entire year.

Thanks again to South Block Juice Company for being so generous and juicy! I’ll talk to you next week.

Much love,



DC VegFest is this Sat, Sept 20th!

by admin on September 17, 2014

Hey, Family!

DC’s biggest vegan festival, DC VegFest, is this Saturday, September 20th!

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It’s presented by Compassion Over Killing (one of my favorite organizations) at Yards Park in DC from 11-6.

It’s a FREE slice of vegan heaven all day long, featuring 40+ vegan food vendors, so you can eat some of EVERYTHING! It’s our world, vegan foodies. Come hungry!

There’s also lots of vegan everything else there, too, including great speakers, live music, products from soaps to shoes, and activities for the kids.

My sister, Marya, and niecey-bop, Mara, (below) have been helping to organize the kids area for years, so I know firsthand that your little ones will love it.

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In fact, my family and I have been involved with DC VegFest since it’s humble beginnings 17 years ago, either as volunteers, coordinators, or speakers. This year, I’m honored to serve on the inaugural Host Committee to help promote the event with some great folks. (At the media party with Busboys and Poets owner, Andy Shallal, below.)

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So come on out, bring your veg-curious family and friends, and join 10,000+ people. And if you’re not in the DC area, but know some folks who are, spread the word. It’s gonna feel like a great big family reunion!

And one last tip: get there early, if you can. The first 1,000 people get a free swag bag filled with lots of vegan goodies.

Here’s a sneak peak at mine:

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I’ll see you there!

Much love,