Newburgh Hosts Fourth Annual Vegan Festival

NEWBURGH – The fourth annual Hudson Valley Vegan Festival was held on the Newburgh waterfront on Saturday, and hundreds attended to enjoy plant-based food and other products.

The event started out as a vegan cookout by Samuel Simmons, a resident of Rochester, NY who grew up in the Newburgh area and wanted to encourage the locals to start adopting a plant-based lifestyle that he has been practicing for about four-and-a-half years.

“As we started to invite more vendors, we realized this was more than a cookout: it was a mini-food festival,” he said. “After speaking with some more friends, we felt like it needed to be taken to a larger demographic and now it’s the Hudson Valley Vegan Festival.”

This year’s event attracted some food vendors local to the Newburgh area, such as Bliss Kitchen, Blend Smoothies and Party Animals, but also brought out businesses from Brooklyn, NY and New Jersey.

Jonas Gunther sells spirulina products through his Brooklyn-based business ‘We are the New Farmers,’ a micro-algae packed with proteins and antioxidants. He was thrilled to be involved with the festival.

“We definitely think that spirulina is not just something that cosmopolitans in New York City should eat, but that everyone should have on their plates,” he said. “It’s simply one of the most nutrient-dense foods on the planet.”

Laiquan Harvey-Davis is a co-owner of How Delish HD, a vegan bakery based in Newark, New Jersey that sells vegan desserts. She has seen an interest from non-vegan consumers from selling her products at similar festivals.

“A lot of the events that we do, many of the people attending are not vegan,” she said.

“Hopefully they’ll catch on and adopt the lifestyle.”

Attendees from far and wide spoke to the health and environmental benefits of the vegan lifestyle.

Kasey Rose came all the way from Queens, New York to enjoy vegan food. She has been a vegan for two years and was a vegetarian before that for four years. She lost 25 pounds after becoming vegan and believes that adopting a vegan lifestyle is better for the environment.

“Being vegan and eating a plant-based diet is so much better for the environment than a meat-based diet,” she said. “Dairy is toxic to our bodies, so humans would be healthier if they ate vegan diets.”

In the wake of environmental disasters such as the Amazon forest fires in Brazil, Simmons believes that living a plant-based lifestyle is especially necessary today.

“If you understand with what’s going on with our planet and how animal agriculture is literally ruining our ozone layer,” he said, “the Amazon forest is on fire because they are trying to deforest the forest so that we can create more areas so you can get a burger or chicken anywhere you go.”

Simmons also discussed how a festival like this will bring healthier options to a “food desert” like the City of Newburgh.

“It’s really hard to get healthy and good food around here,” he said. “I hope some of the vendors out here will be encouraged to come to the City of Newburgh.”

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