I know I tend to only share food porn on this blog, but I do more than cook. I try to be an activist for the animals any chance I get. I co-founded a little vegetarian society — Food Awareness — in Memphis nearly nine years ago, and over those years, we have done loads of protests, demos, leafleting, and other activism for our four-legged, feathered, and finned friends.
Our biggest event every year is our booth at the Cooper-Young Festival, a super-popular arts fest in Midtown's hip Cooper-Young Historic District that attracts thousands every year. For the past two years, we've inhabited the space in front of Imagine Vegan Cafe, which seems as appropriate as can be. Hundreds of veg-curious people stop by for info on a plant-based diet, and we direct them to the cafe behind us for delicious vegan eats and cheap beer. Here's our booth:
We hand out all sorts of free brochures on veganism and factory farm cruelty:
Like at most festivals, the beer offered at beer stands is overpriced and crappy (think Bud Light ... ick!). But Imagine offers $3 bottles of craft beer from local and regional breweries (like Ghost River and Yazoo) and national breweries (like Young and Flying Dog). They always post this sign outside our tent, and it draws people of all kinds, veg-curious or not, into their vegan cafe. Come for the beer. Stay for the vegan food:
I arrived at the fest to volunteer my time in the booth around 10:30 a.m. on Saturday. And thankfully, my pal Stephanie (who bakes all of Imagine's desserts through her home-based vegan company, Swell Baked Goods) had made 16 new desserts for the occasion. I couldn't resist this soft, icing-drenched cinnamon roll:
Most years, I just talk to passersby and hand out flyers, but this year, I had another mission — sell Cookin' Crunk:
In the few hours that I was there, I sold nine copies, one to my friend Jennifer Spurr Harber, a hardcore local advocate for chickens:
Co-founder Vaughan is our main dude at Food Awareness. Without him, we wouldn't have a vegetarian society in Memphis. Vaughan dedicates endless hours to event organizing and spreading the good word. Here he is with healthy school lunch advocate Laura and a friend's kid:
I don't have a clue how many people we reached on Saturday, but I'm sure there were hundreds. I talked to countless people who stopped by the tent to ask us for info on how to give up meat and where to find vegan friends (we proudly provide friendship!). My favorite was a vegan military guy who lives on the local base. He dubbbed himself the "redneck vegan" and he was looking for like-minded friends. He took a giant stack of our flyers to hand out to his military buds. I also met some sweet ladies who were fans of the blog! Touched my heart.
In other news, my cookbook hero Joni Newman has written a glowing review of the Fried Tofu Chicken Wafflewich from Cookin' Crunk. And now she's giving away a signed copy! Check it out!