Holistic health fair in Mt. Airy spotlights vegan benefits, ideals

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Clockwise from top left: The chickpea Burger from All The Way Live Cafe; Community Acupuncture of Mt. Airy; raw apple cake from All The Way Live Cafe; Jen Williams massage.

This weekend will see the first public showcase of Northwest Philly's alternative health providers in the Mt. Airy Holistic Health Fair, and organizer Elise Rivers tells me a significant part of that will be education on vegan eating and veganism.

Rivers, the owner of Community Acupuncture of Mt. Airy, said that due to her prominent street-level storefront, "people knew about my wellness center, but there were all these others tucked away [in other buildings] upstairs" -- enough holistic and alternative practitioners to constitute what she called "a holistic healthcare district" within Northwest Philly. And in an effort "to bring people out into the public space where people can meet and greet them," she organized this Saturday's fair.

Rivers is set for "a fun, interactive event" featuring not just information tables and demonstrations of health techniques but also live music, panel discussions, kids' activities, tai chi and "an exclusive Northwest Philadelphia Holistic Health coupon book, full of discounts on services from local providers." A press release cites Mt. Airy USA executive director Brad Copeland's remark that the event "will hopefully become an annual tradition."

Along with the acupuncture, yoga, herbal medicines, somatic therapy, meditation and holistic skin care, fairgoers can look for treats from All the Way Live Cafe, a Germantown Avenue fixture focusing on raw vegan food. You can expect to see the Cafe's chickpea burger and dessert treats like raw apple cake among other healthful and tasty treats. An All The Way Live spokesperson said "the cafe is delighted to be a part of this. Loving oneself by choosing a healthy lifestyle is serious stuff!"

To that end Rivers included not just foods for people to try but information tables with "starter kits, guides to going vegan, and a display on the Western diet vs. the Whole-Foods Plant-Based diet. We also have literature from the American Vegan Society, and someone will be at one of the tables answering questions." Rivers also reminded me that "our banner does specifically reference animal cruelty and [helping] the planet."

I don't know the ins and outs of all alternative-health disciplines but Rivers seems to have a pretty worthy cross-section. And I gotta say it's good to see vegan eating paired with info about veganism itself, presented as part of a holistic viewpoint - which veganism certainly is.

As for herself, Rivers started on the WFPB path about 4 years ago and has progressed to what she calls "very very mostly vegan," but is focused on promoting healthier eating and pointing people in a more healthful direction, via whatever channel it takes, nutritive or otherwise. As she says, "educating people about the alternative health mind set, with its focus on prevention, self-care and stress management will lead to longer, happier lives."

The fair runs from 1:00 to 5:00 p.m. in the 6700 block of Germantown Ave., from Carpenter Lane to Pelham Road, on Saturday May 20th. Rain date is May 21st.