Stuffed sweet plantain Credit: Eileen Barett photo

What should have been a 25-minute commute took well over an hour, because the city was abuzz with street fairs and mini parades. As I sat in traffic, I thought to myself, “This better be good.” What I (eventually) experienced was a wellness event that had something to satisfy not only my palate, but my mind and body as well: The 10th anniversary of the NYC Vegetarian Food Festival (NYCVFF) whose theme was “Heal NYC.”

As someone who is sensitive to certain textures of food, I entered the festival with an open mind and a willingness to try new things.

My first stop was SAMall Marketplace run by husband-and-wife team Chevoy and Chantel. They create and sell all-natural products for all skin types with a focus on healing for melanated skin. In addition to their product line, they have a diversity group and marketplace to help advance community and workplace equality. Check them out at After picking out some bath salts for myself, I was ready to try some food and I made my way over to the Philadelphia-based I Love Joose company. They were serving up lemonades made with sea moss and a vegan southern fried chicken that made me want to shimmy.

My favorite part of the day was an energy healing session at the Noble Touch booth, a non-profit that empowers individuals to take control of their own healing. For 15 minutes, I sat with my eyes closed as one of their healers worked with me. In the midst of that crowded room filled with chatter, I experienced tranquility and comfort. The healer, Michelle, even reached out to me days after the event to see how I was feeling. The Noble
Touch hosts community meditation and virtual healing sessions on Mondays and Wednesdays. Visit for more information.

The vegetarian food festival is not just for vegetarians. NYCVFFS is a community event that aims to educate the public on sustainability and the benefits of living a plant-based lifestyle. The event featured specially curated food and lifestyle vendors, cooking demos of delicious plant-based fare, world-class speakers, entertainers, chefs, classes, activities and so much more! I walked into the Metropolitan Pavilion expecting a basic food festival and I was pleasantly mistaken.

If you are a proponent of conscious living, wellness, a foodie, or just curious about what a plant-based lifestyle has to offer, I highly recommend you pencil this festival into your calendar for next year. I will see you there.

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