Kale-a-Rama makes me Wonder: Is Veganism the Next Big Thing?



kale20Veganism has been creeping into my consciousness for a while now, but it was the recent vegan festival in my town that makes me wonder if it’s now mainstream.  The festival, modeled after the successful Garlic Festival  in California (now in its 35th year), and billing itself as the first-ever Kale-a-Rama, managed to draw over 1,000 people, and was a blast. Who’d have thought a vegetable could be so much fun?  Well, not me.

But a bunch of activists for veganism and animal rights in the DC-Baltimore area dreamed up the festival, put together a roster music and vendors, and injected a surprising amount of lightheartedness into the venture.  No stern “eat your vegetables” tone or off-putting PETA antics.

Tasty “kale-luscious” vegan offerings included kale smoothies, kale pate, kale non-dairy ice cream, the “exciting debut” of a vegan food truck, and kale donuts.  Just imagine guilt-free donuts!  Entertainment included the “first-ever” vegan drum circle.  (Lots of “first-evers” that day.)


The organizers tell me that Kale-a-Rama will be back next year, bigger and better.  Here’s my story about all things Kala-a-Rama on the Greenbelt blog that I write.



On the Popularity of Veganism


I’ve been nearly vegetarian for 30+ years (eating no mammals and almost no poultry), for a variety of reasons and had no intention of changing that, until I saw the movie Forks over Knives which made a thoroughly convincing case for full veganism.  sexyvegans

And there’s a growing group of celebs who’ve gone vegan and are making news about it, starting with Bill Clinton, of all people. (Good for him!) And sexy  movie stars, too.

But I wonder – is veganism for ME?  The foods are tasty enough (especially those donuts) but as someone who rarely cooks, for whom Greek yogurt is a primary food group, I’m not sure I could pull it off.  Gotta get enough protein to keep on gardening into my senior years, ya know.


  1. If it’s not mainstream yet, it will be. A few of us here, including myself, have gone vegan recently for health reasons. After increasingly high numbers in cholesterol, bad fats, and glucose – even after eating what I would call a healthier than average diet – I had to do something. Waiting on the latest blood work even as we “speak”, but in 3 months I’ve lost 17 pounds and I get to EAT! And being a foodie with an aggressive desire to try new foods ANYWAY, going vegan “cold-turkey” (no pun intended) was a cinch! Some, it’s not as easy, and they have to slide into it slowly. But, I’m not going back no matter what the tests say. A few more pounds to go before I back into my college sized pants and increased energy! And all from food, not exercise, not pills, not supplements…just food! Can’t argue with that!

    • OH! And it was the Forks Over Knives documentary that opened my eyes. I was the people on the video. Seemed to be healthy, but tests showed otherwise. Watch it! And watch it with an open mind, and listen to the stats and the facts. It’s also hard to argue facts.

    • Matt, I read that link but couldn’t find the number of grams of protein I’m supposed to be taking in daily. Could you refer us to that? This is of great interest to me in my daily food-planning.

      • It is my understanding from many a nutrition class that as little 10% of your daily calories should be coming from protein, which weighs in at 4 calories per gram. I don’t want to offer a personalized number because I do not know your weight and activity level.

        Some sources say you can go even lower than 10% of your kcal, but 10% is the bottom range as currently promoted by the nutritionists. (There are so many studies out there that go every which direction, I am wary of any data, even the registered dieticians, but at least it’s a place to start.)

        If you are interested, we’re currently in week two of a free online course in nutrition offered by Vanderbilt nursing school on Coursera.org. I believe you could still join and catch up. Week five, I think, is going to be about plant based diets. I cannot wait.

        Hope this helps.

      • Susan, maybe you’ll find these 3 links helpful (examples of food + protein in grams, provided in 2nd link)

        “The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for both men and women is 0.80 g of good quality protein/kg body weight/d and is based on careful analysis of available nitrogen balance studies.”

        So, for someone who is 220 lbs, 220 lbs is 100 kgs. 100 x .8 – 80 grams of protein/day.




      • Hello Garden Rant please look at the 3 links I provided above, hope you find them helpful.

        • Sorry, I kind of forgot I left that comment, but it looks like the answer was already posted. The advice PCRM gives is backed by studies. I know a doctor on the board, and I’m sure he can point me to more info if you need it.

          • It’s also probably worth noting that I’ve competed in four marathons and an Olympic distance triathlon, and I’ve never had a problem with too little protein 🙂 But as noted above, the recommended intake depends on many factors such as weight, age, sex, etc..

  2. Thank you for introducing me to to the Forks Over Knives documentary. I had never heard of it and I found it very educational. Thanks again.

  3. For those folks in the pic “protesting” for equal eggplant rights – there is an eggplant festival. It’s held in Loomis CA (about 30 minutes outside of Sacramento) every Fall. This year it’s October 5th.

    In fact, here in CA just about every town has a veggie or fruit festival. Tomatoes, lemons, mushrooms, mandarins (just up the road from my home!), olives, avocados, beans, strawberries, asparagus, artichokes, citrus, peaches, pears … all have their own. Of course, most try to present food for omnivores, vegetarians, and vegans alike. And there are festivals for other ag products such as eggs, mustard, lamb, oysters, & wine. And that’s not even counting the ethnic festivals – Greek, Hmong, Sikhs, Pacific Rim nations, and on & on – where, sure, there’s music & dancing & games, but the food is central.

  4. I am nearly vegetarian also. I like how you put it. But I do find that it requires a little more effort in the kitchen. Have you ever made vegetarian burgers? I feel that I have every kitchen implement out to make these burgers. Of course a salad is easy with maybe some chunks of salmon on top, but I can get sick of salads. I have read ‘Forks over Knives” book which has great recipes in it, and am learning how to prepare mostly healthy foods. It is a learning curve.

  5. Doubt if I will ever go all veg, spouse never will but I control the kitchen. Am cutting back on the red meat and introducing more fish and poultry. So he is eating better. I over heard him tell our son with shock and awe: “your mom made this asparagus chicken dish and it was really good!”

  6. http://www.bitterpoison.com/tools has lists of the essential amino acids (“building blocks” for protein) in all kinds of foods, both plant and animal, so you can count up for yourself if your meal has enough protein. OK, it’ll require a bit of math, but it’ll give you a decent guesstimate at your intake.

    I love vegetables (I call myself an “omnivorous vegephile” when I need a Latin title) but do not see the science to support the necessity of a 100%-plant diet. Looking at the human teeth and digestive system tells me I was designed to be able (not necessarily required, but definitely able) to consume and benefit from some animal-based foods. (No, not “evolved” – Darwinian Evolutionism is some of the worst non-science ever foisted off onto hapless 8th graders in the entire history of our public school system. /End that rant.)

    If you decide, however, that you no longer WANT to consume animal products, stop eating them. You can get your B vitamins from brewers’ yeast, and I’ll mind my own business! 🙂

  7. If veganism becomes more mainstream, it will be by necessity and not because it’s the healthiest diet for most humans.

    Forks over Knives was a great film, but it relied heavily on the China Study – which has been thoroughly debunked…by a former vegetarian!

    Here are a few resources that are worth reading into:

    1. http://rawfoodsos.com/2010/07/07/the-china-study-fact-or-fallac/
    2. http://rawfoodsos.com/for-vegans/
    3. Author information: http://rawfoodsos.com/about/

    • Kevin, Well said. Also read The Vegetarian Myths by Lierre Keith, whose health was permanently damaged by her determination to stick to a vegan diet long after she knew it was hurting her. After that, she studied the topic so well that no argument is left not carefully examined.
      A person who reads only vegetarian literature is missing some vital information.
      Ira Edwards

  8. I’m a fan of the NYTimes food critic Mark Bittman, and he’s just put out a part-vegan diet/cookbook (advocating eating vegan before 6pm for health reasons). I’m not giving an opinion on his book or anything, but that’s a pretty main-stream place for veganism to show up, since he’s usually talking about the best places to eat in NYC including all the steakhouses.

    • I love Mark Bittman, and I use his huge vegetarian cookbook often. A lot of the recipes he posts can easily be made vegan.

  9. When I look at the healthiest people on the planet vs. their local cuisine, it appears that the ones that live the longest to the best old age are the ones that live mainly off vegetables, fruits, eggs, poultry, fish, and rice. I’m not sure how to characterize that diet … it’s not “vegan” but it is one sort of vegetarianism. It’s also very planet-friendly. Chickens are the world’s best garbage disposal, compost maker, and pest-reducer. Ducks and geese get rid of slugs and weeds. Fish can be used in aquaponics, and easily grown in rural areas, even where there isn’t much water. The protein and fats involved are way healthier than the ones in grains. Eggs contain some hard-to-get essential fatty acids and vitamins.

    A grain-centric diet is not good for our planet, esp. not crops like soy and corn. The runoff from farms ruins the soil and is killing parts of the ocean. A short-sighted desire to “be nice to animals” is resulting in the wholesale extinction of entire species, due to farming.

    Of all the kinds of grain farming though, rice farming is the most planet friendly, and can be done largely by hand. The SRI movement is pretty amazing.


    • Hi Heather, most of the soy is grown for animal feed, not for vegans or vegetarians- if we grew the grains directly for human consumption we would need much less crops, land and water in the process. A very small part, about 6% of soybeans is grown for human consumtion. Having said that, no you don’t have to eat soy to get protein on a vegan diet. Some vegans avoid soy and do just fine. I buy gmo-free soy milk and tofu sometimes. 🙂


  10. As someone who grew up on home-grown beef, I don’t know that I could ever give up meat, I truly do love the taste. I also love my veggies just as much, and recently found Kale. It’s the best! I put it in everything I cook, and I finally found out why so many people love their “green” smoothies!

  11. If you’re a foodie and looking for some great recipes, check out the Healthy Librarian blog and facebook page
    subtitled “a medical librarian’s adventures in evidence-based living.”
    She also posts the latest food/health/exercise studies with commentary. She posts extensively on what she’s tried out (and changed) based on studies she’s read.

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