Event organizers of the 2014 VegFest expect to see a dramatic increase in attendance at the April conference due, in part, to a special appearance by environmental activist and film actress Daryl Hannah.
“We are expecting over 5,000 people this year,” says Renee Ratliff, the event organizer, noting that the event drew 3,000 visitors last year. “The numbers have been steadily increasing each year.”
The festival, to be held April 13 at the Suburban Collection Showplace in Novi, is presented by Michigan’s largest vegan organization and will feature talks on plant-based nutrition, cooking demonstrations, children’s activities, and a food court featuring vegan options from local restaurants, bakeries, caterers, and food companies.
In addition to Hannah, special guests include former Detroit Piston John Salley; Joel Kahn, a cardiologist and author; Jill Fritz of the Humane Society of the United States; Chef Erika Boyd of Detroit Vegan Soul; Chef Robert Hindley of Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital; and Chef John Heath of Jazzy Veggie.
The conference will include a “Save the Bees” event, which will discuss why vegans don’t eat honey, along with promoting more vegan-related activities, such as meatless Mondays, in school cafeterias.
Ratliff says the annual increase in attendance to the conference is evidence of the growing population of Detroit vegans, which she attributes to an increased interest in healthy eating and living.
“We have seen an increase with restaurants serving vegan foods in (places like) Royal Oak and Ann Arbor, but there have been other places like Monroe, too, which just opened up a new restaurant,” Ratliff says.
For more information about the conference, visit vegmichigan.org.