Vegetarians gather in University Yard

University Yard played host to the D.C. VegFest Saturday afternoon, an outdoor festival that advocated for vegetarian lifestyles, sustainability and animal amnesty.

The event – which was organized by Compassion Over Killing and the Vegetarian Society of D.C. – exhibited 29 nonprofit organizations, 19 commercial vendors and almost a dozen restaurants and bakeries. This is the second year GW’s Foggy Bottom Campus has hosted the festival.

Several hundred students and locals from the area munched on falafel wraps, sipped from whole coconuts, mingled with a slew of speakers, watched cooking demos and waited to have their cookbooks signed by authors during the day-long event.

Though long lines wrapped around numerous tables, samples of vegan pastries like German chocolate cake kept patrons occupied.

The day was also marked by numerous accomplished speakers discussing the benefits of vegetariamism on a stage in front of Lisner Hall.

Mackenzie Green, who was crowned Miss D.C. in 2010, spoke about the physical and spiritual benefits of a vegan lifestyle.

Colman McCarthy, a former Washington Post reporter and founder of the Center for Teaching Peace in D.C., emphasized the idea of “living peacefully with animals.”

McCarthy said he always believed in the importance of teaching young people, and that he greatly encourages GW students to sign up for his spring peace education classes at American University.

Some exhibitors said they were there to “speak for the animals,” said Lisa Qualls, who is part of the United Poultry Concerns and the Student Animal Legal Defense Fund chapter at the GW Law School.

The event also featured a vegan bodybuilder, and an “eco-licious” cooking demonstration by Chef Laura Von Der Pool, whose assistants constructed her raw-food jewelry ensemble just prior to the show.

Literature also abounded; sponsors of the event passed out pamphlets with information on the effects meat and poultry have on human health and the environment, as well as guides on how to live a vegetarian lifestyle.

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