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VegFest 2015

CF VegFestOn October 24th, 2015, I, along with the many great faces representing YAYA took part in the Central Florida Veg Fest. It is our region’s major festival highlighting the importance of how vegetables and living as a vegan or vegetarian can benefit us as people, and how we interact with nature. Now I myself am not a vegan or vegetarian, but I will say that I did learn a lot from my experience around the many veggie inclined folks that traveled from Gainesville and West Palm Beach even to be part of this event. It is a major commitment to cut out meat from one’s diet, given the numerous advertisements and general language selling it to us, but from the curious religious folks from Gainesville to the vegan bodybuilders traveling from West Palm Beach, it was amazing to have a conversation and interact with them on a principle they hold so dearly.

Now why was I, a committed omnivore, a participant at the VegFest. Well, although folks are dedicated on a personal, healthy, and sometimes spiritual level, what is often ignored is the labor necessary to produce food for our consumption. Over 80% of our vegetables are handpicked (because machinery will damage it) and in standing in solidarity with farm workers, we are obliged to point out the fact that many of the people that labor for our spiritual and well being are in fact, underpaid and exploited. It was a fact that many people at the VegFest overlooked, but the visitors and onlookers were very much humbled by the conversations I had, and were willing to help support the cause of the farm workers that everyday labor for the better of all of us.

By the end of the festival we gathered hundreds of boycott endorsements for the Familias Unidas por la Justicia (Families United for Justice) campaign against the Sakuma Brothers, who are actively denying berry farm workers the right to organize a union. I assume there were many berry aficionados at VegFest given the excitement to fill it out. We were also able to sign many people up to support our work in the future, as it relates to farm workers in Florida. Overall, it was a huge benefit to be here because as a solidarity network, we are tasked not to ‘preach to the choir’ but to reach out to those who feel they are not affected and make them aware that as consumers and fans of all things veggie, they have a role in the movement to make farm workers lives better. Just as much as farm workers make our lives better by giving us sustenance.

Jonathan Alingu
Orlando YAYA/CF Jobs with Justice

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