VegFest volunteers hand out free samples at a past VegFest.

VegFest volunteers hand out free samples at a past VegFest.

Photo provided by AV Squared

VegFest brings the meat of the matter behind plant-based eating

By: Sherri Kolade | C&G Newspapers | Published April 13, 2018

NOVI/METRO DETROIT — VegMichigan Vice President Tom Progar has experienced various shades of green.

As a vegetarian for 25 years and now a vegan for the past 13 years, he brings his insight to the table at what is described as Michigan’s largest vegan tastefest and expo: VegFest.

The annual event is slated for 10:30 a.m.-5 p.m. April 29 at the Suburban Collection Showplace in Novi.

The Detroit Lions’ Theo Riddick and celebrity Dr. Joel Fuhrman will be headlining as speakers at the event, which is slated to draw about 5,000 people, according to a press release. 

“It’s (our) 19th year of hosting the VegFest — it is a humongous celebration,” Progar said. “It’s just full of a variety of reasons why people should move towards a plant-based, vegan diet.”

Vegan cuisine will tantalize the palate with over 100 restaurants, vendors and exhibitors presenting attendees with plant-based foods, free samples and information on products and services, according to the release. 

“We have people that talk about the health benefits of moving toward a plant-based diet; we also have speakers and vendors that talk about the environmental benefits of a vegan diet, and people who care about animals. And they talk about reasons why we should keep animals off our plate,” Progar said. He added that half of the attendees are either vegan or vegetarian, and the other half are “just curious” about the growing popularity of eating less meat and being healthier. 

“VegFest — it is not for people who are vegan, even though we get a lot of vegans who come out and celebrate the day. It’s for people  who really want to have a better understanding of what this is all about.”

Cooking demonstrations, speakers and a kids zone will also be featured, along with discussions on the positives of a vegan lifestyle.

And Progar said there are a lot of positives.

Before he adopted a vegan lifestyle, he would have random aches and pains and, overall, had low energy. Now, at 48 years old, he is energetic and is taking on a more active lifestyle. 

He said that eating a healthy diet that is really nutrient-dense and plant-based is a great way to treat your body right.

“The reason I went vegan is because I did see a video on the internet about how eggs are produced and saw how … dairy products are produced, and to me, I thought that was more horrifying than how meat is produced,” he said, adding that he became a vegetarian because he didn’t want to harm animals. “Then I realized how eggs and dairy is produced — it seemed almost more harmful how they treated female animals, so I became vegan.”

Riddick will speak at 1:45 p.m. that day on “Improving Your Game with a Plant-Based Diet,” followed by Fuhrman at 3 p.m. speaking on “Eating for Health and Longevity,” according to the release.

Vendor Paul Delmotte, of Urge Juice in Northville and Berkley, said that his company has been at the last few VegFests.

“It’s a perfect fit for our products and all the customers and people that attend VegFest,” he said, adding that it is for customers looking for healthy plant-based and vegan products.

Urge Juice sells cold-pressed juices, along with quinoa bowls, acai bowls and toasted breads with various spreads.

He said that the company was started in the summer of 2013 at the Royal Oak Farmers Market. 

Paul Krause, president of VegMichigan, said in a press release that this year there is space for more things on tap at VegFest.

“We’ll have more space this year and a covered outdoor food truck park,” he said. “Even if you come just for the new Ben & Jerry’s vegan flavors,” he said, “you’ll leave inspired with plenty of resources for a better, healthier life.”

Suburban Collection Showplace is located at 46100 Grand River Ave. in Novi. Admission costs $14 in advance or $17 at the door. VegMichigan members are admitted for free.

VegFest is sponsored by Whole Foods Market, Better Health Stores, the Henry Ford Center for Integrative Medicine and others.

For more information, go to Follow updates on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter @VegMichigan.