VegFest celebrates happy, healthy living
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By Mickey Zeldes  August 7, 2014 11:42 am

Sonoma County is having its first all day “celebration of compassionate, healthy and environmentally responsible living” on Saturday, Aug. 16 from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. at the Finley Center in Santa Rosa. For just $5 (children under 13 are free) you will be able to hear nationally renowned speakers, watch cooking demonstrations, taste and buy delicious vegan foods and more.

If you’ve ever considered going vegetarian, are just curious about exploring some healthier food options, are concerned over the environmental issues that center around how our food is raised, feel at all guilty about the number of animals you eat and want to learn more about a humane, healthy diet – this is the event for you.

The lineup of speakers is impressive – starting with Samantha Pollak from the Factory Farming Awareness Coalition talking about how animals are raised for food and how this relates to everything from climate change to social justice. Next is Lauren Ornalas from the Food Empowerment Project speaking about how food choices impact humans, animals and the environment world-wide. Hope Bohanec, of United Poultry Concerns, will talk about the truth behind alternative animal production. Dr. Alan Goldhammer, a dynamic speaker from TrueNorth Health, will talk about how to thrive on a plant-based diet and avoid some of the pitfalls made by new vegetarians, and Dr. Will Tuttle, an author and inspirational speaker, will talk about the interconnectedness of all life and the World Peace Diet. In addition, there will be the Sonoma County premier of the new documentary film, “Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret,” with a Q & A with co-director, Keegan Kuhn following the screening.

Come hungry, as there will be samples and food for sale from some well known veggie restaurants and manufacturers, including Gaia’s Garden, Lydia’s Lovin’ Foods, Community Market, Whole Foods, Sjaak’s Chocolates, Alive and Healing Tempeh, Freja’s Seitan and more. Been curious about these foods but too timid, or overwhelmed with choices, to ever buy some? Here’s an opportunity to taste and talk to those in the know about what they are all about. In addition, get some great recipes and prep tips during the cooking demos with chefs and nutritionists Katie Mae, Jill Nussinow (the Veggie Queen), Isis Israel and Maria Clementi. 

Sonoma County has such a wealth of resources for those interested in exploring vegetarianism, monthly meet-ups and potlucks, restaurants and stores, speakers, authors and more. Here they are, all gathered in one place so you can meet them all and start getting connected. It’s really helpful to have a support system in place when you are trying any life change, and eating healthier is no exception. For a full schedule of events for this fun event go to In the meantime, put Saturday, Aug. 16 on your calendar. Hope to see you there!


Upcoming events

• Mutt Strut registration is now open. Start getting pledges for our annual fundraising dog walk and pet fair on Sept. 27 and help raise money for the shelter (prizes for the top fundraisers). Read more about it at 


• No more lost pets: Free microchips and pet ID tags are available for residents of Rohnert Park and Cotati. Stop by the shelter during our open hours with your pet to get one. The shelter is open Wednesday 1-6:30 p.m., Thursday through Saturday 1-5:30 p.m. and Sunday 1-4:30 p.m.


• Fix-it clinics: Free spay and neuters for cats and $60 dog surgeries (up to 80 pounds) are available for low-income Rohnert Park and Cotati residents. Call (707) 588-3531 for an appointment.


Mickey Zeldes is the supervisor at the Rohnert Park Animal Shelter. She can be contacted at

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