An estimated 1,000 plant-munching party people will take over Regatta Park in Coconut Grove for an evening of food, cocktails, games, and music Saturday, October 6, during what's billed as Miami’s first Vegan Block Party.
The party will offer food, vegan presentations, a vendor marketplace, outdoor lounges, lawn games, and kombucha pong. Alcohol is not included in the ticket price, but a full vegan bar will sell craft beer, wine, and mixed drinks.
“People don’t realize that a lot of alcohol isn’t vegan,” says Ariel Levine, coordinator of the event. “Alcohol is very weird, and it can be processed with fish bladders and can sometimes have gelatin or different animal byproducts.”
Levine, a 20-year-old sophomore majoring in nutrition and dietetics at Florida International University, undertook the massive task of organizing an event this size. It turned out to be more than she’d bargained for, so she's taking a semester off school to make it happen.
The young vegan credits her grandmother for inspiring her to quit eating meat. “My grandma made us steak one night, and it was so pink and so bloody, and I didn’t want to eat it,” Levine says. “I made a connection that it was an animal, that it was a life.”
Levine dumped the food, locked herself in her parents' bedroom, and did not come out till Grandma took off. “We’re fine now,” Levine says of her relationship with her grandmother, “but she thinks I am crazy for being vegan.”
Levine became officially vegan at the age of 16. A few years ago, she began hosting potlucks to meet other vegans, and within a year and a half, the gatherings were drawing more than 100 people. But she wanted more.
“I was literally traveling to L.A. to attend vegan events because there’s so few here in South Florida,” she says. And that's when inspiration hit. “It came to me in this dream,” Levine says. “Vegan Block Party. I rolled with it, and it’s grown into the event you see now.”
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Levine's party will offer more than just food from places such as Ali’s Sweet Treats, That Vegan Food Truck, Harmless Hot Dog, Planet Protein, Roots N Seeds, and the New Vegan. During the evening, nine speakers will discuss subjects such as nutrition, environment, and plant-based economics between performances by an array of poets, rappers, and performance artists. A vendor marketplace will sell organic clothing and eco-friendly products. A host of nonprofits will be onsite to discuss opportunities for community involvement, Miami-Dade Animal Services will offer dog adoptions, and DJ Sal will spin hip-hop.
Ticket prices include food samples; full-size dishes will be available for purchase. Each guest will also receive a goody bag to stuff with swag such as candles, soaps, and foodstuffs from sponsors such as Follow Your Heart, Upton’s Naturals, Raw Revolution, Nut Pods, Go Raw, and Vegan Rob’s.
“It’s not going to be an event that you show up, have to wait in lines, and walk around with nothing else to do,” Levine says. "There’s going to be a lot of things going on, and you can learn more about a vegan lifestyle.”