Vegetarian Food Festival comes to Scottsdale this weekend

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By Tami Hoey By Tami Hoey

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- It's been a popular event in New York City for years, and now for the first time, it's arrived here in our state. It's the Arizona Vegetarian Food Festival!

More than 30 vendors of vegan foods and lifestyle products will hand out free samples and sell their wares on Saturday Jan. 10 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the Scottsdale Civic Center.

One of the festival vendors, Southern Innovations, makes a line of gourmet, gluten-free, and no-sugar-added sauces.

Their hot sauce is called Fire Lips, which joins a roster of Saucy Lips products. Another vendor, Sweet Earth Natural Foods, will offer burritos and burgers featuring seitan and vegan bacon. And the pit bulls will scamper in, taking the form of artisan chocolate bars, presented by Rescue Chocolate, whose products are for humans to enjoy but whose profits are all donated to animal rescue organizations.

Additionally, the festival will provide a forum for talks by leaders in the vegan and health community. Among those scheduled to speak are Matt Ball, the senior advisor at VegFund; bodybuilder Will Tucker of Plantfusion; Gene Baur, president and co-founder of Farm Sanctuary; Sarah Pressler, CEO of the Arizona Foundation for Women; Kari Nienstedt of the Humane Society of the United States; Lauren Walls, founder of the Vegan Radiance franchise; and acclaimed medical researcher Dr. Amish Shah who is board certified in emergency and sports medicine.

The festival will also be full of cooking demonstrations by cookbook authors and celebrity chefs such as Madelyn Pryor, Jason Wyrick, Fran Costigan, Ali Metzger, Cesily DeAngelo, Johnna Gale, and JL Fields. To round out the experience, attendees (kids and adults alike) can participate in yoga classes offered by Caleb Willow and receive wellness treatments and education at the "Ask the Wellness Professional" area.

The Festival is organized by U.S. Veg Corp which is best known for its internationally acclaimed New York City Vegetarian Food Festival, begun in 2011. Co-founders Sarah Gross and Nira Paliwoda said their aim is to introduce ever-widening circles of consumers to the deliciousness and healthfulness of plant-based, sustainable and conscientious living.

General admission (including two raffle tickets) is $20 per person in advance or $25 at the door. A $50 VIP package is also available; kids 10 and under are free. Tickets can be purchased at  https://2015azvegfoodfest.chirrpy.com. For further information, go to http://azvegfoodfest.com.

AZ Vegetarian Food Festival
Location: Scottsdale Civic Center Amphitheater
3939 N. Drinkwater Blvd
Scottsdale, AZ 85251
Date:   January 10, 2015
Time:   10 a.m. to 6 p.m.