V For Veg: Ways to celebrate veggie eating

AH, THE CORNUCOPIA: symbol of food abundance. A "horn of plenty" overflowing with food. And all of it 100 percent vegan.

Wait, how can that be? Where's the deprivation, the scarcity, the righteous self-denial? Who came up with such a crazy symbol?

It's actually logical, of course, because the cornucopia is a "harvest" icon, which means plant produce - and nowadays plant foods are being shared in more abundant variety and diversity than ever, if you know where to look.

After I covered Bethlehem's VegFest, I reaped a bumper crop of comments pointing out veggie celebrations, although smaller-scale, much closer to home. Fair enough. A few are coming up this week.

The most explicitly harvest-oriented is the American Vegan Society's Jersey Harvest dinner at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at Careme's Restaurant in Mays Landing. If you're curious about plant-based eating, it could be an excellent starting point, so sign up in advance (americanvegan.org). Besides tasting mushroom ceviche, spiced cauliflower soup and swiss chard and potato strudel, you can meet and dine with the people behind AVS, including co-founder Freya Dinshah.

In suburban Philly, the Peace Advocacy Network holds its annual Peace Fest in Phoenixville on Saturday. The all-veg samples, live entertainment headlined by Two of a Kind and info booths will all be at Reeves Park from noon to 4 p.m. This year's fete is an anti-bullying event.

"Oppression won't be eliminated until all differences that can coexist peacefully are respected," PAN says. "In addition to promoting equality for humans and respecting diversity, help eliminate the oppression of animals. Respect animals; go vegan."

But the event isn't all super-serious finger-wagging: There will be a vegan version of "Cupcake Wars" with professional bakers such as Dia Doce, Sweets by Samantha and Eliza's Bakery to provide a delicious balance of war and peace.

And within city limits? On Sunday, Wired Beans Cafe (301 W. Chelten Ave.) will host a soul-food pop-up cafe by Takia McClendon and Kiera Smalls. It's a fund-raiser for Philabundance as well as a kickoff for Uptown Soul Food, a catering operation the two are launching to bring vegan soul to the masses via food truck.

Among the offerings will be black-eyed peas, collard greens, po-boy sandwiches, mac and cheese, fried-chicken sandwiches and even a bacon cheeseburger - all vegan! Now this may not be as healthy a harvest as raw produce, but these versions beat the heck out of their saturated-fat- and cholesterol-laden counterparts.

"I want people to see they can eat a meat-free diet and they don't need to lose their traditions," said McClendon.

So there's vegan abundance just beyond your own back yard. Step out and give it a try! If you can't make these events, try a representative recipe from each at philly.com/harvestvegan.


Vance Lehmkuhl is a cartoonist, writer, musician and 10-year vegan. "V for Veg" chronicles plant-based eating in and around Philadelphia. Follow @V4Veg on Twitter, and send your veggie tips to VforVeg@phillynews.com.