Veggie Fest combines summer fun with healthy living

By BOB RAKOW - brakow@shawmedia.com Published: Friday, Aug. 11, 2017 3:47 p.m. CDT
Karla Gomez discusses the plant moringa with Susan Keys of Downers Grove during the 2015 Veggie Fest in Lisle. — Shaw Media file photo

LISLE – Not every summertime festival combines good times with the opportunity to learn about leading a healthier lifestyle, but that’s the goal of Veggie Fest.

The event, one of the largest vegetarian food and lifestyle festivals in North America, drew more than 40,000 people to the grounds of Benedictine University last year.

Similar crowds are anticipated for the 12th annual two-day festival, which runs from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Aug. 12 and 13 at the university, 5700 College Road, Lisle. Admission and parking are free.

Veggie Fest combines food, entertainment and education. Participants can learn how to cook vegetarian dishes, participate in yoga and meditation seminars, and visit vendor booths that cover all aspects of healthy living.

“It’s a family fest,” said Jonathan Kruger, one of the event’s organizers. “The energy at this festival is really good.”

Veggie Fest isn’t aimed at vegetarians, Kruger said.

“It’s for everybody,” he said.

Not everyone who attends the fest will become a vegetarian, Kruger added, but a few thousand people sign up each year for the 30-day vegetarian challenge.

The festival features an international food court; health professionals speaking on diet, lifestyle and environmental issues; food demos by restaurant owners, chefs and authors; a children's tent; music from several area bands and more than 100 vendor booths.

The food offerings will have an international flare, with everything from Caribbean to Chinese to Middle Eastern dishes available, along with salads, wraps, pizza and desserts.

“We cook and prepare all the food,” Kruger said.

Returning as keynote speakers on healthy living are Dr. Kim Allan Williams Sr., chief of cardiology at Rush University Medical Center, and Dr. Terry Mason, chief operating officer at the Cook County Department of Public Health.

Other speakers include Saraswati Sukumar, professor of oncology and co-director of the breast cancer program at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, who will talk about diet and cancer prevention. Arran Stephens, founder and CEO of Nature's Path Organic, returns to talk about sustaining a healthy food supply.

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If you go

WHAT: Veggie Fest

WHEN: 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Aug. 12 and 13

WHERE: Benedictine University, 5700 College Road, Lisle

COST: Free

INFO: veggiefestchicago.org