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Food fair urges the public to give peas a chance

POULSBO — In Betty Bennett’s house, turkey with all the trimmings will not be on the menu this Thanksgiving.

Instead, she might sit down to a Tofu Holiday Roast and sunshine carrots and she won’t feel like she’s missing a thing.

In fact, the 14-year vegan thinks more people ought to try adding vegetarian dishes to their diets. Besides religion, ecological issues or ethical concerns, she said many people go vegetarian just for some extra spunk.

“For some people, it’s a matter of I feel better and I have more energy when I eat this way,” Bennett said. “There have been studies done that showed a vegetarian diet gave you more stamina and endurance.”

Next week, Bennett and colleague Kathy Aus will be offering the public the chance to explore the world of vegetarian eating at the 10th annual Holiday Vegetarian Food Fair from 7-8:30 p.m. Nov. 18 at the Poulsbo Seventh-Day Adventist Church, 1700 Lincoln Road.

The event began in 1994 after the pair, who had been teaching vegetarian cooking classes together, decided they wanted to put on an event for the community at large. They agreed on a holiday theme to highlight the creative vegetarian solutions for Christmas and Thanksgiving fare.

“A lot of people have questions about vegetarians and the holidays,” Bennett said. “I mean, what do you do if you have a vegetarian for Thanksgiving and you can’t have a turkey?”

Next Thursday’s event is an open-house format. Dishes of similar origin will be laid out for sampling at different stations around the room. Vegetarian (meat-free), lacto/ovo vegetarian (meat-free but including eggs and dairy) and vegan (all animal product-free) dishes will be highlighted. Stations will include examples of the use of tofu, vegetable and grain combinations and meat analogues (fake meat).

The event is free and there is no program so those interested are welcome to come for all or some of the event.

“People just come with their appetites and pick up a plate and fork and choose some foods they want to try,” Bennett said.

Sweet tooths will even be able to visit the dessert table.

“We make some amazing desserts that are very healthy,” Bennett commented. “Can you believe a carrot cake with no eggs?”

Though the event is a way for non-meat eaters to get fresh ideas, it was envisioned as a way to help non-vegetarians explore. Nutritionists will be on hand to answer question and vegetarian cooks will have free copies of recipes for all the offered dishes. Bennett said usually about half of the visitors to the annual event are people curious about vegetarianism and its nutritional values.

“Shocked,” Bennett said of most non-vegetarians’ reaction to the dishes offered. “You take one bite of those barbecue pecan balls and it’s impossible to believe they’re not meat. Most non-vegetarians are very surprised.”

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