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Natural Awakenings Naples and Fort Myers

Cape Coral Vegan Street Fest

The Cape Coral Vegan Street Fest will take place from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., at 915 SE 14th Place, in Cape Coral. The board members are infusing a breath of fresh air into the annual event this year. Secretary Mary Ann Parsons says, “We had our first small event at Centennial Park, in downtown Fort Myers, in 2017. Today, we have 7,000 or more people who attend the fest to enjoy the speakers, vegan food, live music, cooking demonstrations and kid’s zone.”

Parsons says, “Two of the people on our board of directors, Dr. Marcela Trevino and Marlies Laaper, went plant-based first, because of their concern for all sentient beings, and second, for their environmental concerns. Most people go plant-based either for the animals or for their personal health. Plant-rich diets are associated with improved nutrition and increased food security, which can reduce cardiovascular disease, nutrient deficiency and obesity, as well as improve mental health. Consuming less animal-based food can reduce agriculture’s need for land and water. What we eat matters.”

Parsons explains, “When you teach a class about plant-based eating, you get maybe 15 to 20 people; if you’re lucky, 25. But when you do a vegan fest, you have a much larger potential to impact more people. That’s the power of having a large event, even if you only impact 10 people. The planet needs it and people need it. I don't know that we’re going to save everybody, but with climate change, we need to educate more people on a plant-based diet that everyone can do to help to contribute to less carbon emissions.”

As a festival with such a flurry of activity, many people wander in because they are curious and want to see what all the hoopla is about. One of the stories that Parson relates is about an older gentleman she met on the second year of the event. “The topic of our conversation turned to him telling me about his vacation in 2017. ‘I was vacationing here in Fort Myers, staying in a hotel in downtown. I saw the tents and was curious, so I walked over to find out what the event was about. I sat for a while listening to a couple of your speakers talk about how eating a plant-based diet could improve a person’s health. I was diabetic, insulin-dependent for 15 years, and decided to adhere to their advice. I altered my eating habits and ate plant-based foods this past year, and now I’m off my insulin. You guys changed my life.’ That's that kind of story that keeps all of us on the board motivated,” she says.

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