Originally published Monday, January 8, 2018 at 08:34a.m.

SEDONA – On Jan. 20 and 21, Healthy World Sedona will present Sedona VegFest 2018 at the Sedona Performing Arts Center, 995 Upper Red Rock Loop Road.

The event will feature speakers, cooking demonstrations, an art show and exhibitors, all of which will focus on promoting the health, ethical and environmental benefits of a whole-food, plant-based (WFPB) diet and lifestyle.

The theme for this year’s event is “Peaceful Plates, Peaceful World.”

Sedona VegFest 2018 will bring to Sedona some of the most widely respected experts and proponents of WFPB living for informative and motivational presentations. Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, author of Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease, will deliver the keynote address on the personal health benefits of a WFPB diet.

A trained surgeon, Dr. Esselstyn has been an active leader at Cleveland Clinic since 1968. Over the years, he has served as President of the Staff, a member of the Board of Governors, chair of the Clinic’s Breast Cancer Task Force and head of the Section of Thyroid and Parathyroid Surgery. He is also a Fellow of the American College of Cardiology. Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease reviews the groundbreaking results of Dr. Esselstyn’s 20-year study on the link between nutrition and heart disease. As explained in the book, the study found that after adopting a plant-based, oil-free diet, the overwhelming majority of patients experienced diminished angina symptoms, significantly lower cholesterol levels and a notable improvement in blood flow to the heart. Years later, most of these patients still follow Dr. Esselstyn’s program and have not suffered any major cardiac events.

Several other widely renowned and highly respected speakers —  including Colleen Patrick-Goudreau, Keegan Kuhn, Dr. Michael Klaper, Brenda Davis, Jane Esselstyn, Sid Garza-Hillman and Jane Velez-Mitchell — will address additional benefits of the WFPB diet. These benefits include improved personal health, promotion of the humane treatment of animals and advancement of environmental sustainability.

One unique part of the event will be the Sedona VegFest Art Show, at which over a dozen of Sedona’s most gifted local artists will display original works reflecting the “Peaceful Plates, Peaceful World” theme. Sale proceeds will support Healthy World Sedona and its mission. Additionally, Sedona VegFest 2018 will feature cooking demonstrations by plant-based chefs, delicious plant-based foods and an exhibit area showcasing a full range of healthy and sustainable products and services.

In addition to promoting the WFPB diet to attendees, Sedona VegFest will support adoption of this healthier lifestyle in Sedona’s schools. As part of a partnership between Sedona Oak Creek School District (SOCSD) and the Humane Society of the U.S, VegFest will feature a special lunch catered by the SOCSD Food Services staff. The lunch will include three tasty dishes — Sweet Potato and Black Bean Chili, a Fiesta Rice and Beans Bowl and a Pumped Up Pasta Bake — that will then be added to the ongoing menu choices for SOCSD students. Tickets for the luncheon may be purchased in the Performing Arts Center lobby on both days of VegFest.

The VegFest lunch is an extension of the Humane Society’s Forward Food initiative, which represents a collaboration with chefs, dietitians, doctors and other professionals and individuals committed to developing a healthier and more sustainable food system through the promotion of the plant-based diet. Forward Food also has a special program that provides K-12 schools with plant-based recipes that meet USDA regulations and other nutritional requirements. Following VegFest, the SOCSD staff will receive training in plant-based meal preparation from Forward Food.

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