‘A dream come true’: Attendees praise boro’s first food fest for black vegans, vegetarians

Sweet treats: Akua Joy vended her super vegan mini muffins at the inaugural Black Veg Fest in Bedford-Stuyvesant on Aug. 11.
Photo by Stefano Giovannini

Black vegans and vegetarians from around the borough brought their appetites to Bedford-Stuyvesant on Saturday for a new plant-based food festival that some herbivores couldn’t wait to sink their teeth into.

“It was a dream come true,” said Mahasin McIntosh, who lives in Fort Greene. “I’ve been a vegetarian for 30 years, and have spent years petitioning more souls to become vegetarians, so it made me happy to see something like this.”

Organizers of the inaugural “Black Vegfest” took over Herkimer Street between Ralph and Howard avenues, where more than a dozen vendors promoting no-meat lifestyles peddled their goods and good-for-you habits at the bash, which was co-presented by Borough President Adams — a staunch proponent of veganism since he adopted the diet after revealing his type-2 diabetes diagnosis in 2016.

McIntosh hit the food fair with a friend after learning about it at a get-together for local vegans and vegetarians hosted by the beep, and said she nibbled the day away tasting raw food and meatless cuisine that included hemp burgers and sides of seaweed and spinach.

And the pals weren’t the only ones who chowed down — the seven-hour event attracted a bustling crowd that one entrepreneur said kept her and her tiny trainee busy till closing time.

“People really came out, and we had a lot of fun once we got the hang of it,” said baker Akua Joy, who sold her Super Mini Vegan Muffins pastries with help from her 3-year-old girl. “They were excited to try out muffins, and my daughter operated our cash register — everyone loved her.”

Joy, her tot, and her husband Guru Singh also spent the day chatting with attendees about their family’s decision to take up veganism a year ago, a change she believes more black Brooklynites will be willing to make as the Vegfest and other health-advocacy events in their community take root in the borough.

“I feel like there should be more of this, and I’m glad they brought it here because we definitely needed this bad,” she said. “Not enough in the community want to leave dangerous foods behind, so a lot of us are continuing a culture of habit. But if we start sharing the information with events like this, people will absorb it.”

Reach reporter Alexandra Simon at (718) 260–8310 or e-mail her at asimon@cnglocal.com.

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