While attending nursing school, Carolyn Mallett was moved to make a major lifestyle change while working on a special project.
"I was taking a community health course, and we were each assigned a zip code," Mallett says. "Mine was Orange Mound. I knew there was a lack of fresh fruit and vegetables, but until I actually went into the neighborhood and did field research — I was shocked at how limited their options are."
This research sent her on a course that resulted in her becoming vegan in an effort not only to lead a more healthy lifestyle but also to have an impact on her world.
"I found out how much water was used in animal agriculture and all the deforestation that goes into all the land that is needed," Mallett says. "The amount of people that livestock can feed is far less than grain or plant-based, meanwhile millions of people go hungry."
Now, she and her friend Angel Jackson, who is transitioning to a vegan diet, are taking the next step in their efforts to impact their world — they're putting on a vegetarian festival.
On Saturday, April 22nd, Memphis' first Veg Fest will take place at the Levitt Shell, an ideal day and location for a festival celebrating animal humaneness and environmental sustainability (that's Earth Day in Overton Park).
"It was completely coincidental, and it's awesome," Mallett says.
The festival kicks off with free yoga, presented by Sumits Yoga, at 10 a.m. followed by festival activities including food vendors, who will offer $3 sample plates, food trucks, live music, food demos, and speakers.
Food vendors include Zaka Bowl, City Silo, Seasons 52, Imagine Vegan Cafe, Merge Memphis, Phillip Ashley Chocolates, Ms. Lillie's Z-Muffins, Nikki's Products, Guilt-Free Pastries, Lydia's Healthy Edibles, and others.
One of the highlights of the event is a vegan cook off, which is open to anyone and offers prizes in entree to dessert.
"No experience is needed," Mallett says. "We have high schoolers doing it."
Those interested in entering the contest can sign up online at memphisvegfest.com until April 14th.
"We have had people ask if this is an effort to aggressively convert people, and that is absolutely not the case," Mallett says. "This is simply for learning about and shedding light on the benefits and the impact of incorporating even a little more plant-based food into your diet.
"This is to promote the elimination of nutritional disparities in our city," Mallett continues.
The festival runs from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, visit memphisvegfest.com.
Memphis Veg Fest, Saturday, April 22nd at Levitt Shell.
Memphis is nothing if not diverse. On the other end of the spectrum of celebrating and promoting plant-based foods and living a healthy lifestyle there is The Memphis Flyer's Bacon and Bourbon festival.
It's just what it sounds like — a celebration of pairing two of the South's best exports — meat candy and whiskey.
Saturday, April 15th will mark the Flyer's second annual festival, and if last year is any indication, it will sell out.
"It's always a happy day at Bacon and Bourbon," Molly Willmott, chief operating officer of the Flyer's parent company, Contemporary Media Inc., says.
A $35 ticket will get you 15 bourbon tastings and free food samplings.
Bacon experts include Central BBQ, The Casual Pint Highland Row, Maximo's on Broad, Spindini, Tops Bar-B-Q, Pete & Sam's, Memphis Pizza Cafe, Celtic Crossing Memphis, Marco's Pizza, Kooky Canuck — Memphis, Pimento's Kitchen + Market, and others.
Think bacon-topped pizza, bacon soufflé, bacon-wrapped bacon. ...
Some of the bourbon being offered to taste and learn about includes Eagle Rare Bourbon, Stillhouse American Whiskey, American Born Moonshine, Four Roses Bourbon, Bird Dog Whiskey, Chattanooga Whiskey Co., Wild Turkey Bourbon, 1792 Bourbon, Buffalo Trace Bourbon, Belle Meade Bourbon, Coopers' Craft Bourbon, Jim Beam, as well as other adult beverages presented by Athens Distributing Company of Memphis, Southern Glazer's of Tennessee, Budweiser of Memphis, and Ghost River Brewing Co.
There will also be live music and vendors, including a cigar station, as well as a cash bar for those of the craft beer or martini persuasion.
All activities will take place at the Memphis Farmers Market at S. Front and G.E. Patterson from 6 to 9 p.m.
Sponsors this year include Henry Turley Co., Gossett Fiat, Another Broken Egg Cafe, and Memphis Farmers Market, and a portion of the proceeds benefit the Farmers Market.
And again, tickets will likely sell out, so go to memphisbaconandbourbon.com.