On January 19 and 20, 2019, Healthy World Sedona will present Sedona VegFest 2019 at the Sedona Performing Arts Center, 995 Upper Red Rock Loop Road. The event will feature speakers, cooking demonstrations, film screenings and exhibitors — all of which will focus on promoting the health, ethical and environmental benefits of a whole food, plant-based (WFPB) diet and lifestyle. The theme for this year’s event is “Healthy. Humane. Sustainable.” With a mission of protecting the environment while improving human health and animal welfare, Sedona VegFest is striving to be a Certified Zero Waste Event through the Sustainability Alliance AZ.

Sedona VegFest 2019 will bring to Sedona some of the most widely respected experts and proponents of WFPB living for informative and motivational presentations. Dr. Joel Kahn, known as “America’s Holistic Heart Doc” and author of The Whole Heart Solution: Halt Heart Disease Now with the Best Alternative and Traditional Medicine, will deliver the keynote address on using Lifestyle Medicine to prevent and reverse disease via a WFPB diet. Other highly regarded speakers will include Drs. Dean and Ayesha Sherzai, who will address the widespread health concern of Alzheimer’s Disease, and Fiona Oakes, a famed vegan marathon runner who will travel to Sedona all the way from England. In addition, acclaimed speakers Nil Zacharias, Dr. Joanne Kong, Dr. Will Tuttle, Dr. Saray Stancic, and Robert Cheeke will address further benefits of the WFPB diet. These benefits include improved personal health, promotion of the humane treatment of animals and advancement of environmental sustainability.

New features of this year’s event will include an all-day cooking demonstration track and the feature film screening track, offering attendees more opportunities to be informed and inspired. Celebrity Chefs Fran Costigan and Jason Wyrick will be joined by local vegan culinary instructors to demonstrate practical cooking techniques and ways to combine WFPB ingredients to achieve amazing flavors. Attendees will be engaged, informed and empowered by a broad range of topics, such as Vegan Chocolate: Unapologetically Luscious and Decadent Dairy-Free Desserts and Growing Up Vegan.

Running for Good – produced by Keegan Kuhn, co-director of Cowspiracy and What the Health — will be offered as part of the feature film track. This production showcases Sedona VegFest speaker and vegan marathon runner Fiona Oakes, who runs to raise awareness of animal rights causes. The feature film track will also include Code Blue – Redefining the Practice of Medicine, starring Dr. Saray Stancic, who demonstrates how humans can live longer, healthier lives using the WFPB lifestyle as the prescription. A total of four feature films, presented in a rotating schedule, may be viewed each day to instruct and motivate. 

In keeping with the goal of protecting and improving the environment — a core aspect of Healthy World Sedona’s mission — Sedona VegFest endeavors to be a Certified Zero Waste Event, in which 90 percent or more of waste generated will be diverted from the landfill. Every attempt will be made to reduce waste and reuse materials so recycling can be kept to a minimum.

“We are a society of disposables – buy it, use it once and throw it away,” said Bev Bow, co-founder of Healthy World Sedona. “Except that it is clear now that there is no such place as ‘away.’ Plastics are choking our oceans, littering beaches, harming wildlife and showing up in the human food chain. At Sedona VegFest, our mission includes improving human, environmental and animal health and welfare, so we believe it is essential to take the necessary steps to ensure that our event leaves a minimal footprint on the Earth.” 

In order to minimize waste, Sedona VegFest will provide attendees with reusable tote bags in which to keep samples and items purchased. Instead of the totes being filled with coupons and other promotional materials, attendees will receive a “Virtual Event Bag” via email, containing special offers from exhibitors and other merchants. In addition, Sedona VegFest will ask attendees to be a part of the global solution for a cleaner environment by bringing their own reusable beverage containers; plates, mugs and silverware provided by the event will also be reusable. To ensure that recyclables and waste are properly sorted, the event will feature volunteer-staffed “Waste Stations,” and all food waste will be composted by Sedona Compost. Sedona VegFest will also support the Sedona Chamber of Commerce & Tourism Bureau’s “Straw Free Sedona” initiative by declining to provide single-use plastic straws.

In addition to taking steps to protect the environment and promoting the WFPB diet to attendees, Sedona VegFest will offer the joys of WFPB eating first-hand. Through a partnership between the HWS consulting chef Jason Wyrick and the Sedona Oak Creek School District, SOCSD staff will cater the VegFest lunch. All lunch items will include gluten-free options and will be prepared without added oils. Light fare and beverages provided by Cottonwood-based Wholesome Fast Food restaurant will also be available for purchase at the concession stand in the lobby. The lunch menu for Sedona VegFest will include two scrumptious meals, each offered on separate days. Saturday’s menu will boast Italian orecchiette pasta and charred eggplant in a preserved lemon and pistachio pesto, while Sunday’s menu will showcase Southwest bean stew over mango sticky rice with mango-lime salsa and cashew cream. Both menus will include a salad and dessert. Tickets for the luncheon may be purchased in the VegFest exhibit area for $12.50 per day, all inclusive.

Registration is $50 for both days or $30 for a single-day pass. Students with IDs and Veterans may purchase tickets for $20 per day or $30 for both days. Children 12 and under are admitted free with a paid adult. 

Healthy World Sedona is actively seeking individuals, organizations or businesses to become part of Sedona VegFest 2019 as sponsors, as well as volunteers to help staff the event. The complete event program, opportunities for sponsorships and volunteering, and a registration portal are available on the Healthy World Sedona website at HealthyWorldSedona.com/VegFest2019.