Having been vegan for years, Issa Prescott had this observation about the Fourth of July and other celebrations when it comes to food.
“It’s the time of the year when vegans can get neglected at the cookout,” he said. “Either there are no options or such few options that a vegan may want to stay home.”
Prescott and fellow vegan Akumba Ashanti want to change that meat-centric view.
They have organized what could be the first plant-based public cookout in Atlanta, they say.
But it may not be the last, based on the healthy amount of interest the event has garnered, organizers say.
They are expecting well over 1,000 people at the cookout and block party, which is being held 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday at Shifting Energy Fairgrounds, a new event space in Atlanta’s Oakland City neighborhood.
Ashanti and Prescott said their group, The Urban Community Revitalization Project, donated 600 tickets to ‘give-back to the community’; and quickly sold out another 800-plus tickets.
Social media buzz helped fuel the ticket sales, the organizers said. A burgeoning interest in plant-based diets also piqued the interest of vegans and non-vegans throughout metro Atlanta and beyond, they said.
Many of those tickets were sold to millennials, who express an interest in a healthier lifestyle and in helping the environment by eating more plant-based meals, they said.
Many young people and some elders are “consciously making the transition toward a plant-based diet or, at the very least, they are curious,” Prescott said.
Their curiosity will be whetted at the plant based cookout by more than 30 local vegan food vendors; including Curbside Veggie Grill, offering big juicy burgers; Dawg’On Vegans, and their take on hot dogs; and Calaveritas, which offers Vegan Mexican food. Other food vendors include Vegan King, Junkyard Vegan and Christy’s Cobblers. The focus will be on small entrepreneurs who have made a name for themselves in the local vegan community, organizers said.
The cookout and block party will also highlight local artists and craftsmen, a hemp water company, vegan cookbook producers and numerous suppliers of holistic skin care and herbal remedies. There will be a play zone for the little ones that will include children’s yoga.
Sedara Burson, a licensed professional counselor and addiction specialist, will be on hand to sell her children’s books and to offer workshops on the connection between eating and mental health. “We focus on how things we put in our bodies affect our minds,” she said.
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Music and dance will take center stage (besides the food, of course) at the event. Veteran African dance performer/instructor and choreographer Rashida Abdullah will invite festivalgoers to join her in expressing a combination of contemporary and traditional African dance movement. She’s been vegan since 1995. The owner of Pop Culture International, she will also be selling her all-natural, vegan popcorn treat. “What I’ll bring to the audience is the opportunity to enjoy great food and a fun way to work it off.”
Other local performers will keep the positive and healthy vibe flowing, including hip hop artist, lecturer and spoken word artist Prof Griff, formerly of Public Enemy, organizers said.
There will be something for just about everyone, but especially for vegans.
“We want the focus to be on a healthy lifestyle,” said Ashanti, a lifelong vegan. “We want to let everybody know that a vegan lifestyle is doable. It’s reachable, and relevant,” he added.