My vegan friend texted me on a Saturday and asked, “Hey, want to go to this vegan festival with me?” My knee-jerk response was no—I do not like vegetables and I do like meat. But the festival was at Nationals Stadium and it was obvious she needed a buddy. Although I enjoy eating meat, I don’t need an IV of cow’s blood pulsing through my veins every waking moment of the day. This festival would be a wholesome Sunday activity at a cool venue. I texted her back and told her the truth—I would love to go, depending on how hungover I was.
Fast-forward 14 hours later and I am VIOLENTLY hungover. The night before consisted of an entire bottle of wine, an unknown amount of mixed drinks, and the typical debauchery where most girls in the group did not wake up in their own bed. I wanted to be a good friend and I committed to this festival, so I did what anyone preparing for a vegan festival would do—ate some eggs and cheese and crawled back into bed.
Due to the aggressive hangover, I have not showered in at least 28 hours. I figured this is stereotypically the best place to be with questionable body hygiene. I arrived, after getting lost, and it was crowded! According to my friend, this is the largest vegan festival on the East Coast.
The first sample I had was a lentil soup with rice. I don’t like beans. Great start to the day. Everyone was wearing vegan paraphernalia, and I was a little worried they could smell the egg on my breath. Thankfully, my friend and I both smelled something sweet and decided that was the next conquest. After following our noses, dodging the smells of cauliflowers and brussels sprouts, we arrived in line for vegan and gluten-free cupcakes. I did not do well in chemistry in high school, so I do not understand how to make a cake without milk, eggs, and/or flour…but I was trying to be as open-minded as possible. This AMAZING “Chocolate Du Mort” cupcake only further mystified me. It was probably made solely from cocoa beans and sugar, but it put me in a much better mood for the rest of the festival.
We toured various clothing shops, spun the wheel of positivity, and pet all the dogs. The main event was waiting in the longest line for…lemonade. (Let me reiterate, sugar is vegan-friendly). I’m sure most people there had many more trepidation to taste vegan meat than lemon-sugar-water. There was a spinach lemonade flavor and a blueberry lemonade flavor…guess which was more popular.
Save for a few horror posters of Tyson’s chicken farms and an odd cartoon drawing of a human on a fishhook, the goal of the event was not to convert visitors to veganism. UNTIL, right before vendors started to pack up, all of the television screens in the stadium started blaring a news reel about the horrors of the meat industry. It was reminiscent of every bad-guy in every cartoon movie, where all the screens in the city simultaneously flash with a message from the evil overlord. I expected this before I got there, but it did not fit the mood of what I had seen. Nobody blinked an eye, and the vendors all started to pack up after the broadcast was over, as if they had accomplished what they needed to today.
Although I promised too many people I would going to attend their animal rights rally next weekend, it was a good way to spend a Sunday afternoon. It wasn’t much different than attending a farmer’s market.
I really thought I was going to be hounded to convert to veganism, but I forgot two things:
NUMBER ONE: Nobody could tell I was not vegan, because there was no way I was going to walk around chowing down on a turkey leg. I whispered to my friend in the lemonade line that I had an egg for breakfast. She was forgiving, but I did not know who else was going to be. I made one joke to the positivity wheel guy about not being vegan, and he smiled.
NUMBER TWO: Vegans are a generally nice people. They don’t have the energy to be aggressive, honestly. I definitely saw all the stereotypes—piercings, cannabis, tattoos, bright hair. But I also saw regular people like me. (Although, I definitely smelled, so maybe I fit in more than I thought).
Everyone should have a cause or a hill they want to die on. There are people passionate about animal rights and how it relates to environmentalism and see veganism as one solution. They have valid points. From my own experiences, my father was raised outside of Yellowstone Park, so I have seen how sustainable hunting contributes to the ecosystem. I am a picky enough eater already, so veganism is not my cause. I had an amazing cupcake and got to hang out around Nationals Park, but I was not converted.
If you’re interested, my causes are: women’s reproductive health, the separation of church and state, and dropping off the “mex” from tex-mex food).
- Still not sure how to cure a hangover without bacon fat.
- Sugar is vegan.
- Seafood is killing our oceans. I don’t like seafood, so it’s convenient to back this cause.
- Don’t drink an entire bottle of wine the night before doing anything, especially when going to a place where you have zero desire to eat anything there.
- Apparently, vegans miss hot dogs. I saw two different types of vegan hot dogs. I didn't realize regular hot dogs were that great.