10vegan festAudriaunna Kitterman is the first to admit she is still transitioning into a vegan lifestyle. She eats meat once and awhile, and the occasional fresh mozzarella. Changing what you’ve eaten all
your life is no small task. But according to Kitterman, a movement to understand veganism and have more vegan food options in Fayetteville has been growing for some time. With her holistic training at the Prima Elements Holistic Wellness Center and veganism research in tow, Kitterman decided to establish the first Vegan Festival of Fayetteville, to be held Saturday, June 23.

“I’m learning,” Kitterman said. “I’m understanding. I’m transitioning, and I know that there are other people within the (Fayetteville) community that are, too.”

Three vegan food trucks are booked for the festival. One is coming all the way from Tarpon Springs, Florida; another from Charleston, South Carolina. A Venezuelan vegan food truck from Wilmington will be there as well. “They’ll have vegan arepas, which are completely to die for,” Kitterman said.

Vendors of vegan-certified cleaning and cosmetic products are signed up. Educational booths and speakers on veganism will address misconceptions, transitioning and the health benefits.

Five speakers from various disciplines are lined up for the festival so far.

Jessica Carter works for the nonprofit Compassion Over Killing, based in Washington, D.C. As a vegan food and lifestyle coach, she will conduct a live talk and vegan cooking demonstration. Likewise, Dr. Amelia Jordan is a metaphysician, empath and vegan author leading a talk on bio-quantum physics.

A holistic functional nutritionist will speak on the topic of the gut and the brain. A naturopathic expert is hosting an information session on the healing benefits of a vegan diet. Additionally, a board-certified life coach will speak on reiki and hypnosis treatment.

According to Kitterman, certain misconceptions about veganism continue to persist in society. They relate to the nutritional merit of a plantbased diet, how and what to cook, and the culture of activism within the vegan community.

Most notably, a vegan diet, which does not include meat, eggs or dairy, confronts the food pyramid mandate that a person needs a specific amount of meat for protein and dairy for calcium each day.

Recent documentaries – “Forks Over Knives” and “Hungry for Change” – have shed light on major medical studies that posit the opposite. Doctors from the likes of the Cleveland Clinic and Harvard University contend meat and dairy aren’t as vital as they were once thought to be. In fact, meat and dairy increase the risk of various cancers and chronic illnesses. Vegetables, in turn,
decrease those risks almost entirely.

Another misconception, Kitterman said, can be summed up with this frequently asked question: Do you just eat salad all day?

“You can probably do more with plants than you can with meats and other things,” she said. The possibilities are endless.”

But it is the misconception about the culture of vegan activism that influenced Kitterman’s decision to put on the festival. According to her, many meat-eaters associate vegans with aggressive protestors. But for Kitterman and others, the lifestyle is a personal quest for a healthier relationship with food and the earth.

Kitterman’s experience reflects the reality of the years it often takes to fully transition into veganism. She encourages those practicing all lifestyles to attend the festival.

“If you’re not vegan, it’s okay. If you’re not vegetarian, it’s okay. Truly. Come,” Kitterman said. “Allow yourself to become educated. Try something new. Step outside of your comfort zone. Because the uncomfortable-ness means change. Change is growth, and growth is a beautiful, beautiful thing.”

Along with its vendors and speakers, the Vegan Festival of Fayetteville will also feature flower planting for kids, drum circles and live entertainment.

The festival is free and open to the public. It takes place at the Wellness Center on 124 Anderson St.,11 a.m. to 6 p.m. For more information, contact the center at 910-483-8406.

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