by Michelle Chiang ’19
Up, up, up we went, emerging from the bowels of the Roxbury Crossing T station. A brisk wind greeted us as we stepped into the cloudy sunlight. Across the street, the Reggie Lewis Athletic Center beckoned; a steady stream of people was already flowing through its doors. My parents and I hastened to follow.
In front of the athletic center, enthusiastic volunteers offered Bernie Sanders campaign material, but failed to distract us from our mission: eating at the Boston Vegetarian Food Festival. The front doors opened into a cramped lobby, which led to a narrow hallway, which led to another set of doors, which opened –
And revealed an large, open gymnasium, brightly lit, teeming with people and booths and vegetarian delicacies. The energy of the room was palpable. Some people walked through the aisles of booths like birds of prey, primed to swoop in on a free sample at any moment. Others meandered through the room in a more relaxed fashion, munching on things that they had bought from vendors.
I grinned and looked to my parents. We plunged into the chaos.
At first, I stalked the booths in a predatory fashion, darting through gaps in the crowd to grab free samples. Cashew butter. A dairy-free ice cream bar made of coconut milk. Hummus. Pumpkin pie peanut butter. Barbecue-flavored “hamburger meat” made of jackfruit. The variety of foods astonished me. As an omnivore, I never before realized how ingenious people can be when creating vegetarian foods.
Gradually, as my hunger abated, I also began to focus on booths that exhibited non-food items. One table displayed children’s books that explained vegetarianism in a fun, kid-friendly way. Another table featured hand-made body products, including brightly colored soaps and fragrant balms.
My parents and I had to leave after half an hour, but I could have stayed for the entire day. Yes, the free samples were amazing. But more importantly, I gained a much deeper knowledge of vegetarianism, something that I hadn’t previously given much thought to.
We walked back to the T station, stomachs full and mouths smiling.