With Seed Food & Wine Festival's inaugural run all wrapped up, it's clear that Miami's plant-based culinary community was bigger, stronger, and way more dedicated than anyone probably imagined. Myself included.
With five full days of plant-based soirees, celebrity hosts, chef dinners, and vegan vendors, this was no ordinary veg fest. Basically, it was the South Beach Wine & Food Festival on plants -- just as delicious, just as sophisticated and way friendlier for the waistline, the planet, and our animal friends.
Thousands of people turned up for Saturday's festival day alone. Imagine, South Floridians of all ages, interests and eating habits clamoring for meatless sausage, vegan pork rinds and zucchini noodles ... I can honestly say, never thought I'd see the day.
After this weekend, Miami has undoubtedly earned herself a leadership role in the plant-based revolution.
Saturday's festival ran from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., and the schedule was packed with cooking demos, talks, musical performances, and plenty of wiggle room for strolling and sampling. In hindsight, I wish I'd skipped breakfast, as I was stuffed within 20 minutes of arriving.
In addition to the food factor, the lineup of presenters was a laundry list of vegan notables, from NBA great John Salley to actress/activist Alicia Silverstone. And South Florida held its own on the festival roster with author Ellen Kanner, vegan chef and author Alina Z., blogger and model Emily Nolan, Whole Foods' Camille Lamb, newly minted Miami resident Mark Reinfeld, and lots of other locals taking the stage.
On to the edibles. Strongbow Cider, Perrier Water, and vegan wines were free-flowing. Local eateries were doling out samples of meatless cheeseburgers, banana chocolate chip cupcakes, plant-based pasta, cranberry white chocolate chip muffins, spirulina popcorn, pumpkin chia pudding, Bahamian fritters, veggie ceviche, and all kinds of other concoctions.
Peace-a-Cake, Choices Cafe, Blackbrick, Basil Park, Bunnie Cakes, Mi Vida Cafe, Milk Gone Nuts, Field Roast Grain Meats, and other Miami favorites were all on site, plus plenty of national brands and Broward and Palm Beach County spots. From volunteers in "How can I help you?" shirts to accessible recycle bins, there were lots of thoughtful details in place.
Never, in my wildest vegan dreams, did I imagine a festival like this would come to Miami. In just a few short years, the city's cruelty-free landscape has rapidly evolved, bringing with it a lengthy list of dedicated advocates and food pioneers. It's an impressive bunch of visionaries that makes up Miami's vegan community, and almost everyone had a hand in Seed, with Alison Burgos and Michelle Gaber leading the way.
And judging by the Instagram frenzy around #seedfw (and #selfiewithsalley), it looks like I'm not the only one who was impressed. This is what Miami vegans have been waiting for. Hell, this is what all vegans have been waiting for.
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In the words of Joe Connelly, publisher and co-founder of Veg News, "Miami should be proud."
After an incredible 120 hours of plant-powered love under my belt, I'm so ready for next year.
Follow Hannah on Twitter @hannahgetshappy.