Posts Tagged ‘Nathan Runkle

Veg Fest Report

» July 8th, 2013

I knew it was coming. I could actually feel my anxiety level rise as I sat in the back row and listened to Nathan Runkle open his talk at Veg Fest Colorado. My discomfort had nothing to do with Nathan himself, the boyish-looking, natty leader of Mercy for Animals. Instead, it was because I knew he’d show a clip from MFA’s invaluable underground work, the footage of brutality that characterizes life on factory farms, the horrific “data of experience” (my phrase) that we have, as Runkle explained, an obligation to “bear witness” to.  I knew it was coming. And it did. It came. And it was awful, more awful than I’d imagined.

It’s worth looking around the room when a video is playing of animals being terrorized. Some people walk out. Others hang their heads, more in shame than out of a wish to avoid the hard imagery.  People cry. Veg Fests have as many, if not more, “veg curious” attendees than they do vegans or vegetarians. So these images, horrific as they are, were critical for people to see.  I commend Runkle for bringing utter darkness into a talk that many expect to be all sunshine and light. That takes guts.

The other highlight from the festival, aside from the irony of it being located on rodeo grounds, was the cooking demo by JL Fields (of the blog JL Goes Vegan). I will confess to once being slightly dismissive of cooking demos. I would think: “is this why we’re here?”

Watching JL, I realize that, for hundreds of attendees, the answer is in fact yes: that really is why we’re here. JL, whose new book Vegan for Her (co-authored with Virginia Messina) is hot off the press, gets this. She provides home cooks with a wealth of fast and accessible ways to eat healthy vegan food. She’s not doctrinaire, she trusts her well-honed instincts when it comes to sensing what people need culinarily, and, perhaps best of all, she is a natural in front of a crowd—funny, self-deprecating, at ease, and full of genuine personality. Get this woman a TV show!  She could be the Julia Child of vegan cooking.  No joke.

Other highlights worth noting: a gorgeous trail run at Red Rocks, led by a new friend; a quick but rewarding visit to Nooch Vegan Market in Denver, and solid vegan meals at City O’ City and Watercourse Foods. And don’t even get me started on the beer. IPA heaven in the mile high city.