I didn’t know what to expect at the Veggie Fest 2009. Advertised as “Good Food, Healthy Living,” the fourth annual Chicagoland event was sponsored by Science of Spirituality, a non-profit organization located in Naperville, Illinois whose members are deeply committed to a spiritual way of life based on meditation, service to others, and personal transformation.
With temperatures in the low 90’s and humidity hovering near 100%, it was not an auspicious beginning.Â In the sweltering heat I wandered through rows of booths, sampling eco-friedly products and picking up literature from massage therapists and other alternative health practitioners. Within minutes I was hot, damp, and uncomfortable. Then I spotted the meditation tent. The man at the door smiled and invited me in, adding, “Surprise! It’s air conditioned.” Beautiful, blissful air conditioning.
Soon, an initiate of Sant Rajinder Singh Ji Maharaj, head of Science of Spirituality Mission, stepped to the mike to lead us through a guided meditation. Closing my eyes, I concentrated on her words. Almost instantly I felt the stress drain from my neck and shoulders and my breathing slow. Strangely, for the rest of the day I didn’t even feel the heat.
Veggie Fest is a free event that promotes the many spiritual, physical, mental and social benefits of being vegetarian. The event features 100 food vendors, restaurants, and exhibitors; health talks by medical professionals; children’s programs with crafts, games, and activities; live music; and cooking demos (with free samples) by famous Chicago vegetarian restaurants such as Karyn’s Fresh Corner, Chicago Diner, Nature’s Path, Borrowed Earth Cafe, Cuisine of India, and Raw Creations, among others. For years I have been complaining that the Midwest has poor cuisine in general and a complete dearth of vegetarian options. Who knew that vegetarianism had made such a mark on my home town?
Although 16,000 people attended the two day event, it was so well organized and set up that it never seemed overly crowded. I even treated myself to a Shiatsu-Thai massage from one of the exhibitors. Pure Bliss. And the food was pretty darn good, too!