Written and Photographed by Doreen Dawkins
Whetstone Community Center
3923 North High Street
Columbus, OH 43214
According to wwwcbusvegest.com, “The Columbus VegFest is a day of education promoting sustainable living, healthier bodies and a more compassionate society”. It was a dreary day. During my visit, it rained buckets. The good thing is many of the vendors are inside; so, there was a lot to experience, dry.
There was a tent set up outside where educational talks were given. I’m sure they were very informative; but, by the time I was ready to sit down for a presentation, there was a break in the rain; so, I left.
Are you local?
No, we are out of Lakewood, Ohio. We are originally from Cleveland, Ohio.
What does a Vegan donut consist of? Different flavors?
Basically, it is plant based. No animals are harmed. If you are Vegan, there are no eggs and no dairy. It is basically fruits. It is still a yeast raised donut. It is not gluten free. Everything you see here is all natural including the sprinkles (no artificial coloring).
Can you use sugar?
Yes. Organic cane sugar.
What are your different flavors?
We have bomb pop which is lemon icing with sprinkles, s’more, strawberry shortcake, raspberry with sprinkles, cookies and cream, and glazed twist.
What is a s’more?
It is graham cracker, chocolate, and marshmallow roasted. This is our version on a donut.
I assume these are good.
Yes, we came all the way from Cleveland and our line of people was all the way back.
Sidebar: I tried the donut, and it was good.
Smash Bowl is located in Nashville Tennessee area. We have been in business for about 3 years. We do special events all across the country. We got into this business for a couple of different reasons. (1) my wife and I have been vegan for about 25 years. (2) we are martial artists. This business started with our love for martial arts and Brazilian jiu-jisu. All our products come from the Amazons of Brazil. We are 100% dairy free. There are no animal products in anything that we sell. We don’t even use honey. It is considered animal products by many vegans. No milk and no dairy.
Smash Bowl. What is it?
Acai is a berry that grows on the palm trees in Brazil. They make the berry into a puree. We make it into a sorbet and add toppings such as granola, and agave. It is super rich in antioxidants. It’s a lot of super foods packed in one bowl.
Kombucha is a fermented tea. It has probiotics in it; live bacteria, organic acids. It is made from sweet tea. I use black and green tea and organic sugar. We add a live culture to it and let it ferment for about three weeks. The culture has yeast and bacteria that live in harmony. The live culture eats all the sugar and it turns into probiotics; amino acids, organic acids. It helps your digestive system. After the initial fermentation, I put it in a second fermentation with the fruits and the berries and whatever I choose to flavor it for another week. Then, we bottle it and it goes out to the stores.
What are the benefits?
It is like a detoxer. After drinking the tea, I have heard that people have been cleansed out thoroughly.
Do all the flavors have the same benefits?
They all have common benefits. The lemon ginger is awesome for your stomach. The same with the blueberry cardamom. The blackberry blossom has some flowers like red clover and elder flower in it that are awesome for the immune system. It is good to use in the winter time if you have a cold or feeling sick.
Are you local?
We have a shared kitchen space in Zanesville, Ohio.
Anything else you want me to know?
I’m happy that people are finally catching on to how awesome kombucha is.
Is this a vegan product?
Yes. It is vegan and gluten free, very low in sugar. It is awesome. It is good for your stomach and has all the digestive aids.
I tried the lemon ginger. It was pretty good.
Is this Vegan Chocolate?
Yes. We are a 100% bean to bar company based in Louisville, Kentucky.
What is your claim to fame?
We take pride in using no animal products. We use cruelty free products as much as possible and ethically sourced like a cow from sustainable cooperatives.
What are your flavors?
White chocolate, Raspberry White Chocolate, Peppermint white chocolate, Milk Chocolate, Dark Chocolate (72% Columbian Cacao), Dark Chocolate (71% Belizean Cacao). Caffe Mocha Mile Chocolate, Bourbon Smoked Sea Salt White Chocolate, Mint Julep (Milk Chocolate), and Bourbon Dark Chocolate.
We use Bourbon from a local distillery called Rabbit Hole.
You can get fat eating this right? It has a bunch of sugar, right?
Yes. It’s animal free and its cruelty free but it has all the things that make it good.
What is your personal favorite?
It is probably a tie between the Bourbon Smoked Sea Salt White Chocolate and the Columbian Dark chocolate.
How much are these bars?
$6 each. The special during the Columbus VegFest is 5 for $25.
I did taste the two Dark Chocolate favors and the Bourbon Smoked Sea Salt White Chocolate. They tasted ok to me; but, it had a slight aftertaste. Again, my disclaimer, I’m not Vegan.
They had a faculty representative from the School of Alternative Medicine giving free Reflexology. It was past relaxing and FREE on top of that.
What are you doing here?
I have my three different bars for a $1 donation. Almond Strawberry Rose, Almond Apricot Peach Saffron, and Intense Raspberry Almond. My top seller German Chocolate cookie is gone. I got up at 5 am this morning and made 8 dozen. I should have made more.
Who are we collecting for today?
The Columbus Veg community, Vegan shift, and Marysville Sunrise Sanctuary.
Anything else you want me to add?
Come and try it. Consider going Vegan. It is good for the body, mind, and soul. Most importantly, it is good for the environment.
What product did I just eat?
I believe you had our Sunny Crunch. The leaf is called Crystal bell. It is a lighter cruncher alternative to iceberg or romaine lettuce. It has a lot more nutrients and is a lot healthier.
Did you say you will be in select Walmarts?
Yes, we will be in select Walmarts in the Columbus, Cincinnati and Dayton areas in October. We are located in Wilmington. Our goal is to provide service to a 200-mile radius. We do have green houses in DC, Philly, and Chicago as well. We are new in this area. The biggest thing is we ask that you talk to your local grocery store produce manager or even post on social media and tell them you have tried Bright Farms and it is amazing. Going local is better than importing from California.
We are non-GMO verified, pesticide free. We are 24-hour harvest to store, and we are grown hydroponically. We are cleaner than organic. A lot of organic products still use organic pesticides. Growing hydroponically is just minerals, greens, water in a soil free medium. We are a premium product with a standard price.
This was really good. He told the truth! I would buy this again. They also have other products; but, I didn’t try those.
What is Vegan Shift?
It is a Vegan advocacy and empowerment organization. We focus on vegan education, vegan lobbying, vegan community outreach, and community events, such as the Doo Dah parade. Our goal is to spread Veganism.
We care about the people, and the planet as well as the animals. We feel that a change needs to be made to save the planet, environment, animals, and people. We are about an elevated consciousness and understanding the effects of our actions, and how we can live more sustainably for the entire planet. We don’t promote baby steps. We think it is time to make a big step. We are not about meatless Monday or reducing consumption. We are about Vegan. Vegan is not just a diet. Veganism is how you care about every earthling.
Go to www.veganshift.org you can find the Columbus Vegan meetups. You can find a lot of great educational information there as well. If you are looking to volunteer, you can reach us at www.veganshift.org or on Facebook’s Vegan Shift site. We always need extra help volunteering.
Jamie Inks, Jinxi Chocolate and Wooster Chocolate Company, www.jinxichocolate.com
Tell me what you want me to know.
We are a Vegan, gluten free organic bean to bar chocolate. We used three ingredients to make our dark chocolate: cocoa beans, a little extra cocoa butter, and sugar. Our Vegan milk chocolate has the addition of coconut milk. It’s all soy free, diary free and gluten free.
How much do your products cost?
They are on the high end of the chocolate scale because we use pure ingredients and we make very small batches. Typically, the bars run $2.50 to $4. You get what you pay for.
Anything else you want me to know?
We have a boutique store and café in Wooster, Ohio. We have Vegan soft serve and hot chocolate all day. It’s a fun place to come and hang out, play board games and be with your friends.
Is the soft serve free?
No, it is not. It’s organic and Vegan. It will be a little bit higher than the ice cream store down the street. Again, you get what you pay for.
I had something that was amazing. What was it?
That was our Sriracha Vegan Bean Back Snack Strip. It’s a new product. I just got the labels two days ago.
There was a cheese looking thing on the top. What was that?
That is follow your heart vegan smoked gouda cheese. You can buy it at Meijer and Whole Foods.
Tell me what you want me to know.
I’m a comedian allergic to everything delicious. I was hungry and I needed to make something to eat. I found all these fake meats that have ingredients that I’m allergic to, like soy and gluten. I decided to make an allergy friendly vegan bacon. We are going on our second year of making this bacon. We are from Athens, Ohio. We have five different products.
How much does one little strip cost?
You get two strips in a package. The original cost is $3. The Sriracha cost $4. But today, we are offering a mix and match- 3 for $10.
What’s up with the high prices?
It’s all organic ingredients. When you consider that only organic ingredients are used, it is not that much more than other things that are out there.
Do you find that it is hard being an African American female vegetarian?
Absolutely! In our culture, we eat meat. When you go to family functions, or any kind of social function, there is always meat available. You have to go prepared.
Is it more expensive to be a Vegetarian?
It is not expensive. It is actually more cost effective. The truth is, you can grow your own vegetables and that is a very easy process.
Is it easy being Vegetarian eating out?
It is not easy, because we are in a meat-eating society. There are not a lot of options on menus other than salads and things which makes it challenging when you go out to eat.
If a person is single no dependents and not trying to cook are you saying this is not for them?
No, I’m not saying that at all. I think it is a wonderful option. They just need to prepare themselves for being in a meat driven society. It is not impossible. There are a lot of Vegan restaurants opening.
Where are they?
Willowbeez has a pop up at Hills Market, Loving Hut which is located off of Livingston Avenue, and the Acre which is in Grandview. You have to go online and research Vegan/Vegetarian restaurants. There is at least half a dozen to a dozen restaurants.
Ok, what if a person doesn’t have deep pockets like you? Chocolate bars are $6 each.
First, that’s a festival. They have to recoup their money because that is a one-time thing. They are not a standing restaurant. Second, vegetables are more fibrous. They explode in your stomach., not like an explosion; but, they are more filling. Therefore, you eat less. When you have meat and other processed food, you are hungry more often. If you have more of a vegetarian diet, you can go longer without eating because what you eat is sustaining you. It is more cost effective. If you want to sit down and see your plate full, then that is a mental conditioning which most American’s have. You are not going to have that if you are vegetarian. Everything that you need will probably not fill up the plate. It will be fibrous and hearty; so, you won’t have to eat three big meals and feel full. You will have one hearty meal that will carry you through most of the day.
Anything that I didn’t ask you that might be beneficial for someone that wants to follow in your footsteps?
Be kind to yourself. It doesn’t happen overnight. It is a process. You are going to want to eat meat. Start by cutting down your portions. Studies have shown that many can not go directly from meat eating to vegetarian. You may have a negative reaction. It is your bodies conditioning to want sugar, fat, and salt. Be patient. Introduce it slowly. If you were raised a vegan or vegetarian, it is much easier.
What is the fitness/healthy aspect of being vegan/vegetarian?
Sugar is sugar. Sugar if not metabolized as energy will turn into fat.
First, research it. Consult with your doctor. Studies have shown that there are some ethnic groups that do not benefit from veganism or vegetarianism.
Wow it might not benefit folks?
Yes, it’s just like as African Americans, we should not be drinking milk. That’s why our bodies are lactose intolerant. Our bodies are telling us that we don’t need it. Some cultures do not eat meat by situation or religion. Their ancestors have established that in their DNA. Vegan and vegetarian might not be for every culture.
Vegan and vegetarians have to make sure they are getting all the necessary nutrients. If your fruit or vegetable is not in season or indigenous to where you are living, it is probably not going to help you. It is growing at a certain time to help you. If I am shipping in kiwi from Hawaii, my body is probably not going to metabolize it over the winter time. My body is going to say- what is this?
Let’s say a person usually eats 3 meals a day, 7 days a week. You can start by having 6 to 10 of those meals be vegan or vegetarian based. The remainder “regular.” It doesn’t have to be all or nothing, Vegan/vegetarian ensures we have the proper minerals and vitamins from plant based.
I’m thinking about breakfast, Is cereal ok?
Some grain. Now we are talking about breakfast, lunch and dinner. That is very traditional. You should eat when you are hungry. It all depends on what your body is telling you. It is good to have meals pre-prepared. But, that is with anything. Otherwise, you are going to put together trash.
If you are a true die-hard vegan, you do not put heat to anything, everything is raw. Most of the time when you see recipes, you are eating vegetarian. You can add heat and add oil in vegetarianism. For vegans, if you can’t pick it out of the earth and put it in your mouth, it’s not true vegan.
So those chocolate bars were vegetarian and not vegan?
Right. Those chocolate bars were processed, they are vegetarian. They spin it as vegan because it may not have eggs and stuff like that. A true 100% vegan, everything is raw. It works with the bacteria in your body. A lot of the gut problems we have is because we introduce heat and oils. That’s why we have colitis.
I loved attending Columbus VegFest! I learned a lot. There seemed to be one vendor that was selling some type of wrap. They were the first vendor as you enter the auditorium. The line was very long. It made it difficult to get into the auditorium. I would suggest they have a different location that isn’t close to the entry and speed up their service. I wanted to try a wrap; but, I didn’t want to wait in the long line. In practice, I am thinking about April Tisby’s practical advice. Who knows? One day, I might commit to the 6 to 10 vegetarian meals. I will look for the Bright Farm products because that was past good! As for me and my house, we are going to continue to have regular desserts.