**Read to the bottom for a special Healthfest GIVEAWAY!**
Plant-based festivals and conferences are popping up nationwide, everywhere from the usual larger cities like Chicago and New York, to small, rural towns where you might be surprised by the rising interest in the vegan lifestyle. Case in point, last weekend the BenBella Vegan team (Heather and Lindsay) traveled to Marshall, TX, whose quaint downtown is home to Healthfest, a growing festival now boasting 500+ attendees and an impressive speaker lineup.
Speakers included plant-based superstars like The China Study and Whole co-author Dr. T. Colin Campbell, ultra-endurance athlete Rich Roll, chef and TV host Chef AJ, and Farm Sanctuary author and animal rights activist Gene Bauer. A handful of BenBella Vegan authors were also in attendance! There were so many amazing events happening at the same time, so here’s a recap of what the BenBella Vegan team and authors were up to in Marshall. For more behind-the-scenes photos, check out our Healthfest Facebook album here.
Friday, March 27
After hitting the registration table (where there were free vegan cookies!), and shopping around at the vendor tables, all attendees were treated to an inspiring talk by Rich Roll, called Life Transformation Through Plant-Based Nutrition. He discussed how he turned his life around after a health scare, by transitioning to eating plant-based.
Following Rich, Dr. T. Colin Campbell spoke on The Origin and Meaning of The China Study, and shared why you should, as Hippocrates says, “Let food be thy medicine, and medicine be thy food.” His words about the power of a plant-based diet were perfect for ringing in the weekend: “A whole foods, plant-based nutritional effect on disease is broad and rapid if dietary change is sustained.”
The hilarious Chef AJ rounded out opening evening divulging the Secrets to Ultimate Weight Loss.
Saturday, March 28
Starting the day off strong, there was another talk by Dr. Campbell, The Origin and Meaning Behind Whole. According to Dr. Campbell, “[reductionism] makes money, not health,” and he shared many compelling science-based reasons for why a plant-based diet is best for your health.
The Food and Fitness Connection talk from Plant-Based Journey author Lani Muelrath was up next. Lani explained the importance of exercise not just for keeping your body fit, but also for keeping your brain strong. She also shared a couple of Fit Quickies—super short exercises that can be done just about anywhere—with the audience!
Chef Del Sroufe gave a mouthwatering cooking demonstration about How to Eat More Salad. He prepared Asian Chickpea Salad, Orange-Miso Noodles, and Potato Salad with Pine Nuts, Olives, and Dill all from his upcoming book, The China Study Quick & Easy (you can get a free gift if you pre-order now!).
Lani taught a few 15-minute Fit Quickie sessions throughout the weekend, so we went back in the afternoon to sneak a little more exercise in.
We ended the day’s sessions with Seeking Plant-Based Business Success, led by No-Meat Athlete Matt Frazier and founder of Vegan Mainstream Stephanie Redcross. The successful duo shared a lot of practical tips for getting your plant-based business off the ground.
Sunday, March 29
Chef Del gave another cooking demonstration on Sunday morning about everyone’s favorite subject . . . dessert. At Dessert Please, he whipped up Pear and Fig Cookies, Almost Instant Sweet Potato Pudding, and Banana-Coconut Macaroons, all guilt-free desserts from The China Study Quick & Easy. (If these sound good to you, keep your eyes peeled for video and recipes on the blog!)
We hit another Fit Quickie with Lani, and ended up running into one of the inspiring contributors to The Plant-Based Journey: J.C. Hughes shares his powerful and dramatic plant-based transformation in the book, and how he went about transitioning to eat a plant-based diet. Says J.C., “Like a lot of folks, I had tried dozens of different diets with limited or short-lived success; what I really needed was a lifestyle change. Having grown up in rural east Texas, I had always had a garden as a kid and my family ate mostly vegetables. A plant-based program was like going back to my roots.” We highly recommend checking out the book for his full story if you need a dose of inspiration!
Blissful Bites author Christy Morgan spoke in the afternoon about how to attain A Fitter, Happier You. Christy shared great advice for developing attainable goals, and discussed the power of weightlifting to transform your body. She also emphasized the importance of good nutrition: “You can’t out-exercise a bad diet.”
The festival closed with an all-star panel moderated by Chef AJ, which featured Gene Baur, Ellen Jaffe Jones, Lani Muelrath, Rich Roll, Miyoko Schinner, Dr. Garth Davis, Victoria Moran, and Dr. Robert Ostfeld. The panelists fielded audience questions on everything from supplements, to raising a plant-based family, and all even shared their typical daily diet and exercise routines. It was an enlightening and highly entertaining session!
All in all, Healthfest was inspiring, informative, and a lot of fun. We can’t recommend it enough if you’re looking for a plant-based event to attend in 2016!
If you couldn’t make it to Healthfest, you’re in luck: we’re here to bring a little bit of the festival to one lucky giveaway winner! We’re giving away a goodie bag containing:
- Healthfest swag bag
- Copies of The China Study and Whole
- Two recipe cards featuring eats from The China Study Quick & Easy
- Preview of Lani Muelrath’s The Plant-Based Journey
- A copy of Better Than Vegan by Del Sroufe
- A copy of Blissful Bites by Christy Morgan
To enter to win, just tell us in the comments below which Healthfest talk discussed above you would have most liked to attend. Comments must be left by midnight CST on Friday, April 10. U.S. and Canadian entries only, please. Good luck!