Vegan Food Fest gets sweeter

by Katy Rushlau / Beacon Staff • April 5, 2012

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Cakeology in downtown Boston is one of many local bakeries to feature vegan cupcakes.
Cakeology in downtown Boston is one of many local bakeries to feature vegan cupcakes.

When Cakeology owner Victoria Donnelly whips up a velvety, double-chocolate cupcake topped off with mounds of cocoa frosting, she abides by three rules: no meat, no dairy, and no eggs. 

Donnelly’s vegan cupcake sensations will be among the many tasty treats at Earth Emerson’s first-ever Vegan Dessert Fest on April 16, in the Bill Bordy Theater from 6-9 p.m.

This spin on Earth Emerson’s traditional Vegan Food Fest will transform the basic buffet into a full-blown baking competition, according to Moriarty. Students wishing to enter their baked goods are encouraged to post their recipes on the Facebook event page and bring their labeled submissions to the venue by 5:30 p.m., said Moriarty. A panel of esteemed student and faculty judges will taste test the desserts and determine the winner of a prize package worth $25 containing a certificate and photograph of the beluga whale, which has been symbolically adopted from the World Wildlife Fund in honor of Water Week.

“Hopefully the prize is a good incentive to have people show off their baking talents,” said the junior marketing communication major. “It’s our big event and everyone gets so excited about it.”

The vegan festivities, will incorporate a selection of cookies, pastries, ice cream, and all sorts of goodies donated by local cafés and restaurants. 3 Scoops, said Moriarty, will be donating their ice cream, consisting of almond or soy milk bases. Cakeology will also bring their mouth-watering vegan cupcake morsels. 

Michael Dunlevy, co-president of Earth Emerson, explained that even skeptics of vegan cookery find scrumptious sustenance at their Vegan Food events, typically held once a semester.

“It is always great to see people surprised at dishes they wouldn’t have expected to taste great while still not using animal products,” said the sophomore political communication major. “You don’t have to be a vegan to enjoy the festival. I myself am not a vegan, but it hasn’t stopped me.”

The evening will also include presentations similar to a guest speaker from the Wellness Center in the Dedham Whole Foods last semester. Topics, according to Moriarty, focus on healthy plant-based diets as well as the environmental impact of food. Presentations will cover a range of things, from the protein in various plant-foods such as watermelon to the importance of limiting animal products, said Moriarty. 

In previous semesters, the vegan food events have attracted lines of people, extending out the door. Though the focus is now on desserts, Moriarty explained that the event culminates every Earth Emerson semester by emphasizing the importance of a greener diet. 

“Every club has their signature event ,and this one is ours,” said Moriarty. “It’s a great time, usually around finals, so it’s a nice break and a chance to try some high-quality food.”  

Like its predecessor, Vegan Dessert Fest celebrates vegan cuisine, a diet that abstains from all animal products. Unlike the vegetarian or pescatarian diets, vegans cannot consume milk, eggs, or honey, and other animal products. Moriarty explained that any diet excluding meat lessens harm to the environment.

“There is less food, water, and energy used to produce non-animal products,” said Moriarty. “And the CO2 it takes to run the factories and transport the food, meat, and other products is just astronomical.” 

Both Manderlink and Moriarty expressed the need to allow the Emerson community to experience what the vegan lifestyle has to offer. The benefits include health, flavor, and animal rights activism, which Emerson Peace and Social Justice puts an emphasis on, according to Moriarty

Vegetarian student Melanie Katz, a freshman marketing communication major, explained that she has become frustrated with the lack of vegetarian options on campus, specifically in the Dining Hall. She said that she is hopeful that an event such as the Vegan Dessert Fest will encourage more vegetarian activism and that the dishes will gain some crucial variety and edibility. 

“The dining hall and cafes always feature the exact few ingredients, like the vegetable stock broth for flavor on every meal, and the exact same seasonings for everything,” said Katz. “After a while, everything just begins to taste the same, with the exception of the veggie chicken nuggets and burgers, both of which are consistently dry, flavorless, and cardboard-like in texture.”

While the Vegan Dessert Fest focuses on a diet that improves the environment, Moriarty and Manderlink said they hope their are more options that support a vegan lifestyle. Carnivores, vegetarians, and vegans alike will find solace at Vegan Dessert Fest, according to Moriarty. 

“It’s so much fun with all of the free, delicious food.” said Moriarty. “Its pretty healthy too, so it’s a good experience. It turns out that there is a whole world of vegan food out there and, hopefully, Vegan Food Fest will give everyone a chance to see for themselves and enjoy it.”